US 'War on Terror' displaced 37 million people: report
The US-made War on Terror has displaced at least 37 million in nearly 20 years, a controversial report has claimed, which includes criticism over the inclusion of Syrian refugees in the figure.
The newly released report by Brown University's "Costs of War Project" made stark estimates of the countries affected by US military interference across the world since the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
The report grouped countries based on whether the US waged war in direct response to the Al-Qaeda-linked attacks - such as former President George Bush's invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan - or ones that the US contributed to its escalation, which is why the researchers said they included Libya and Syria on the list.
It also includes countries where the US has intervened through drone strikes, battlefield advisers, arms sales and other means, such as Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines.
Using data from the refugee monitors, but mainly UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the project estimated 7.1 million people had been displaced in Syria, 5.3 million in Afghanistan, 4.4 million in Yemen, 4.2 million in Somalia, 3.7 million in Pakistan, 1.7 million in the Philippines and 1.2 million in Libya.
"Like other wars throughout history, the U.S. post-9/11 wars have caused millions of people - the vast majority, civilians - to fear for their lives and flee in search of safety," the paper claimed.
"Millions have fled air strikes, bombings, artillery fire, drone attacks, gun battles, and rape. People have fled the destruction of their homes, neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools, jobs, and local food and water sources. They have escaped forced evictions, death threats, and large-scale ethnic cleansing set off by the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in particular."
'Assad not the US'
The report was met with criticism, especially from Syrian activists, who say it completely disregarded the actions of dictator Bashar Al-Assad, which triggered Syria's humanitarian crisis.
His violent response to pro-democracy protests in 2011 and his escalation of the war are widely considered to have been the over-riding factors in the mass displacement of Syrians.
Syria entered its tenth year of war in March, which started when the brutal Assad regime brutally suppressed peaceful protests calling for government reforms.
According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war mostly by the regime and its powerful allies.
Meanwhile, half the Syrian population has been displaced both inside and outside the country.
The Syrian regime have used chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions, bombings, and torture against civilians over the past nine-years.
"7.1 million Syrians fled because Bashar Al Assad bombed them with sarin, chlorine, barrels filled with shrapnel and TNT, starved them to death, destroyed their hospitals and schools, tortured detainees, and murdered opponents, and nobody stopped him. Not 'because America'," said writer Kareem Shaheen.
The authors of the paper defended their Syria count, saying they only counted five Syrian provinces where US forces have been active since 2014.
"A less conservative approach would include the displaced from all of Syria's provinces since the beginning of direct US military operations in 2014 or as early as 2013 when the US government began backing Syrian rebel groups," the paper said.
"This could take the total to between 44 million and 51 million, comparable to the scale of displacement in [World War Two]."