South Sudan was on Wednesday ranked 162 on a Global Peace Index — making it less peaceful than countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Syria was ranked as the least peaceful country.

The study, by international think-tank the Institute for Economics and Peace, the world became less peaceful in the last year, reinforcing the underlying trend of declining peace over the last decade.

According to the annual global peace index, while 81 countries improved, the deterioration in another 79 outweighed these gains, implying that peace declined at a faster rate than in the previous year.

The report notes that number of refugees and internally displaced persons increased dramatically over the decade, doubling from 2007 to 2015, to approximately 60 million people.

“There are nine countries with more than 10 per cent of their population classified as refugees or displaced persons with Somalia and South Sudan having more than 20 per cent of their population displaced and Syria with over 60 per cent displaced,” the report states.

The annual index, measures 23 indicators including incidents of violent crime, countries’ levels of militarization and weapons imports.

The latest Global Peace index report blames the intensifying conflicts in the Middle East for the rising violence. The report also attributes the declining peace to terrorism, political turmoil, and the intensification and persistence of wars in Syria, Ukraine, Central African Republic and Libya.

Iceland has been ranked as the world’s most peaceful country, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal.

The report urges the international community to promote peace and to monitor peacefulness through the sustainable development goal on promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.

Goal 16 of the sustainable development goals relates to the promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions.

“Without peace, justice and strong institutions it is very hard to achieve the other development goals. The lesson from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is that conflict prevents many countries from reaching their development goals on poverty, health and education outcomes,” concludes the index.

First published in 2008, the Global Peace Index report ranks nations by gauging peace according to safety and security in society, levels of domestic and international conflict, and militarization.