Wars and armed conflict destabilizes social systems. The principal features are civilian death, particularly women, children and the aged, famine due to crop losses, disrupted distribution systems and the breakdown of infrastructures. Malnutrition lower resistance to infection, so epidemics spread readily. Health systems are severely strained, and sometimes deliberately targeted as part of military strategy.
In North Africa people are still being killed by land mines made in the Second World War. The US State Department estimates that there are currently between 85 and 90 million anti-personnel mines hidden in the ground, left over from recent wars. The UN believes there are even more, possibly 200 million. Another 100 million are stockpiled ready for laying in new wars yet to begin. Worst affected from uncleared minefields are the poor and pastoral societies in greatest need of the land to rebuild their countries from the devastation of wars. In many countries, to start ploughing or re-stocking land is to risk being maimed.