This claim was made by German politician Boris Palmer:

Was Afghanistan angeht, gibt es eine gefühlte Wahrnehmung von Unsicherheit, die vor allem durch Bilder von Anschlägen transportiert wird.“ Diese habe jedoch nichts mit der statistischen Wahrscheinlichkeit zu tun, „dass jemandem tatsächlich etwas zustößt, der dorthin abgeschoben wird“. Er zog einen Vergleich zu Brasilien: Dort würden jedes Jahr 50.000 Menschen umgebracht, das Land sei so gefährlich wie Afghanistan

(Source: https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article167163513/Palmer-will-nichts-mehr-zur-Fluechtlingspolitik-sagen.html)

My translation:

Regarding Afghanistan, there is a perception of danger, based primarily on images of [terrorist] attacks. However this had nothing to do with the statistical probability of someone getting hurt, who's deported there. He [Palmer] compared Brazil: 50,000 people were killed there every year, the country is as dangerous as Afghanistan.

I've tried to verify this, but only found a table of "intentional homicide rates" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate), but this explicitly "excludes killings directly related to war or conflicts". I've found estimates of how many people died during the invasion, but nothing about the last 5 years or so.

EDIT: The context is this: Boris Palmer is a member of the (mostly pro-refugee) Green Party and he's using this comparison to argue that people fleeing from Afghanistan shouldn't be granted refugee status, because Afghanistan isn't more dangerous than other countries, like Brazil.

I agree with the comments that the quote is vague. It's not clear what number he's comparing the homicide rate in Brazil to. It's possible that he's just comparing the intentional homicide rates from both countries, but since people are fleeing from war or conflict, not intentional homicide, it seems misleading to compare numbers that exclude victims of war or conflict. The only comparison that would make sense to me is comparing the "danger of getting killed" in both countries, including thus including victims of conflict, terrorist attacks etc.

  • 1
    I find this (especially the title) unclear, but I can't read the rest of the article to work out the real claim. Is it about all forms of danger, including carcinogens, car accidents, food safety? All violence? Deaths due to terrorism? Which invasion?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 30, 2017 at 23:00
  • @Oddthinking I can't read the article either, but assuming the translation is accurate, the 50,000 number indicates that they are comparing intentional homicides in Brazil to some number in Afghanistan. I.e. there were 55,574 intentional homicides in Brazil. The question seems to be how many intentional homicides plus deaths due to terrorism and war occur in Afghanistan. Then someone could normalize to rate per capita. Without war (and possibly terrorism), the rates are visible in the Wikipedia link.
    – Brythan
    Jul 30, 2017 at 23:09
  • I think that some context is needed, in what context was this claim made, and who does he talk about being "deported" to Afghanistan. I think that even if the numbers are smaller in Afghanistan, there is a difference as to who the violence is directed to. In Brazil, tourists who stay in safe neighborhoods are safe, relatively to the local residents of the poor neighborhoods and slams, while in Afghanistan, westerners (and western soldiers) are specifically targeted by the different terror groups operating there. 57 German soldiers and policemen died in Afghanistan since the start of the war.
    – SIMEL
    Jul 31, 2017 at 7:18
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    I'm curious why this was downvoted: I've read a hard-to-believe claim by a politician in a major newspaper, and tried to find out if it's true or false. I've seen similar questions on this site and assumed this is a good place to ask?
    – nikie
    Jul 31, 2017 at 9:55
  • @nikie I didn't DV, but the question seemed unclear about which numbers it was actually about. Additionally, the numbers are somewhat irrelevant regarding the right to asylum, as that is not (only) based on the total or relative number of (violent) deaths in a country (it eg also depends on political persecution or inhumane treatment in a country). You might want to revise this question to make it clear which numbers it is about, and maybe also ask a question at politics.SE regarding the general approach of using these numbers in the context of the German asylum process.
    – tim
    Jul 31, 2017 at 10:29

2 Answers 2


Depends what you count. Brazil's murder rate is 26.74 per 100,000 people. Afghanistan's is 6.5 according to this. However, as you noted, this does not include war related casualties.

According to the UN, civilian casualties were 3710 in 2014 (report) which brings the rate up to about 16 per 100,000.

Now what if we add combatants? This article notes that estimated number of killed Taliban varies between 20 and 35 thousand over 13 years.

It’s unclear how many Taliban have been killed over the past 13 years but estimates vary from 20,000 to 35,000.

If we take 26,000 as a median estimate, that's another 2000 casualties a year on average. That brings the rate to 22.5 (using 34 million population).

The Afghan armed forces and international coalition have lost another 17,000 lives during the same period (same article)

At least 13,700 Afghan police officers and army soldiers have been killed in the war with more than 16,500 others wounded, according to a statement issued by President Hamid Karzai’s office on March 2.

More than 3,420 NATO allied forces, among them 2,315 U.S. service personnel have died in the war, according to iCasualties website.

Add those in and you get up to 26.3 murders per 100,000.

Those statistics are inherently unreliable, but the claim is plausible, even if you count war casualties. It's definitely in the ballpark.

  • Thank you, that's exactly the kind of numbers and sources I've looked for and couldn't find.
    – nikie
    Aug 1, 2017 at 6:35
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    It is worth to note that Brazil is by no means a safe country. We have huge problems with violence over here, so while the numbers might be on the same ballpark, they don't mean that much at all.
    – T. Sar
    May 14, 2019 at 11:04

Since 2007, the Institute for Economics and Peace has published a Global Peace Index (GPI), which looks at the general level of peace in various countries by aggregating several indicators. You can find their full 2017 report here (warning: 140-page PDF.) Broadly speaking, the indicators used to calculate the GPI fall into three large domains:

  1. Ongoing Domestic & International Conflict, as measured by number & duration of external & internal conflicts; number of deaths from external & internal organised conflicts; intensity of organised internal conflict; and relations with neighboring countries.

  2. Societal Safety & Security, as measured by level of perceived criminality in society; number of refugees & internally displaced people per capita; political instability; political terror; impact of terrorism; number of homicides; level of violent crim; likelihood of violent demonstrations; number of jailed persons per capita; and number of police/internal security officers per capita.

  3. Militarisation, as measured by military expenditure per GDP; armed services personnel per capita; imports & exports of weapons per capita; contributions to UN peacekeeping; nuclear & heavy weapons capabilities; and ease of access to small arms.

Precise definitions of all of these indicators, along with calculations of how they are used to calculate the GPI, are given in Appendices A & B of the above-linked PDF.

In each of these domains, here's how Brazil and Afghanistan (and Germany, for good measure) compare. In all cases, lower numbers correspond to "more peaceful" nations.

                   Brazil    Afghanistan    Germany   Overall range (all countries)
Ongoing Conflict    1.055       3.658        1.052              1.0–3.8
Societal Safety     3.118       4.178        1.646              1.2–4.3
Militarisation      2.229       2.425        1.872              1.0–3.9
Overall GPI         2.199       3.567        1.500              1.1–3.8

The last of these domains (militarization) is probably not as germane to the question of whether Afghanistan is "more dangerous (for the population)" than Brazil; but the indicators of ongoing conflict and societal safety definitely are, particularly the latter. In both of these domains, Brazil is more peaceful than Afghanistan. It is also worth noting that while Brazil is indeed below the median in overall safety (its GPI is 108th out of 163 ranked countries), Afghanistan is basically at the bottom of the list (162nd out of 163 ranked countries.)

Unfortunately, the report does not include a breakdown of the individual indicators used to calculate the GPI. The report does specifically note that Brazil had particularly high political instability over the past year, and that its military spending has increased as well; these probably account for the higher scores in the "societal safety" and "militarization" domains. Still, we can probably conclude that Afghanistan is significantly more dangerous for its residents than Brazil is for its residents.

  • So bigger numbers are less peace? Sounds like a conflict index.
    – user36688
    Aug 1, 2017 at 15:39

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