'Millennials fear nuclear attack in next decade'

Young people believe there would be a third world war in their lifetime, according to Red Cross survey

Afp January 16, 2020
47 per cent of respondents to poll of 16,000 young people believe there would be a third world war in their lifetime. PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA: More than half of millennials fear there will be a nuclear attack somewhere in the world within the next decade, according to a survey by the Red Cross released on Thursday.

Some 47 per cent of respondents to the poll of 16,000 young people also believed it was more likely than not that there would be a third world war in their lifetime.

"Millennials appear to see cataclysmic war as a real likelihood in their lifetime," Peter Maurer, president of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross, said in a foreword to the report.

Adults aged between 20 and 35 took part in the survey ,  both in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Syria and largely peaceful ones like Britain and France.

The Red Cross used online panels, face to face interviews and telephone interviews to reach people in 16 countries.

The most striking result came in reply to the question: "In your opinion, how likely or unlikely is it that nuclear weapons will be used in wars or armed conflicts anywhere in the world within the next 10 years?"

Some 54 per cent said they felt it was likely such weapons would be used.

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The ICRC said the survey also revealed some "worrying trends", such as the answers they received to the question: "In your opinion, is torturing captured enemy combatants acceptable under some circumstances, or is it never acceptable?"

Some 41 per cent said they would support torture in some circumstances.

And just 54 per cent had heard of the Geneva Conventions, agreed in 1949 to protect prisoners of war and civilians in war time in response to the horrors of the Second World War.

Maurer said the results also revealed "a worrying acceptance of dehumanising language or actions towards perceived or real 'enemies' that is prevailing in an era of fake news, disinformation and polarised viewpoints".

But there was some optimism, such as the 60 per cent of Syrians polled who said they believed the current civil conflict would end within the next five years.

Syrians also had the highest support among respondents for showing humanity in war, with 85 per cent saying captured combatants should be allowed to contact relatives and 70 per cent saying torture was never acceptable.

The highest support for torture of captured enemy combatants was in Israel, Nigeria and the United States.

The Red Cross is a humanitarian institution established in 1863 with a mandate to protect the victims of conflict.


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