The Suez Canal: A Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt
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Suez Canal: Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

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Suez canal map

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The Briefing

  • The Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important waterways, connecting Asia and Europe
  • On March 23, 2021, the Ever Given container ship ran aground, blocking transit in both directions

The Suez Canal: A Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

On March 23, 2021, a massive ship named Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal, completely blocking traffic in both directions. According to the Suez Canal Authority, the 1,312 foot long (400 m) container ship ran aground during a sandstorm that caused low visibility, impacting the ship’s navigation. The vessel is owned by Taiwanese shipping firm, Evergreen Marine.

With over 200 vessels halted on either side of the canal, authorities are scrambling to dislodge the container ship and resume normal operations. This has proven to be a difficult task so far, and experts are warning that the process could take weeks.

What is the Suez Canal?

Constructed in 1869, the Suez Canal is an Egyptian sea-level waterway that provides a vital shipping route between Europe and Asia. Without this route, ships would need to sail around Africa, adding an entire week to their trips.

The connecting link between two important regional economies, the canal facilitates a significant amount of trade. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) reported that 19,000 vessels—averaging to 52 a day—had sailed through its waters in 2020.

YearNumber of VesselsAmount of Cargo (Tons)
201117,800692M
201217,224740M
201316,596754M
201417,148822M
201517,483823M
201616,833819M
201717,550909M
201818,174983M
201918,8801,031M
202018,8291,170M

The total volume of cargo being transported through the canal has increased steadily in recent years. This includes consumer goods, dry-bulk cargo such as grain and minerals, and oil products.

Implications of the Blockage

The blockage of such an important shipping route is bound to have consequences. According to Lloyd’s List, each day the Suez Canal is closed disrupts over $9 billion worth of goods trade.

European officials have also voiced concern about longer-term impacts, particularly after the blockage is cleared. A sudden influx of ships could cause massive congestion at European ports and further disrupt supply chains.

»Want to learn more? Check out this infographic on global shipping container traffic.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Suez Canal Authority, Vesselfinder.com, BBC, CNN, Lloyds List

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Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Using data from the UN, this chart shows civilian death toll figures resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Ukraine war death toll

The Briefing

  • In total, since the war began in February there have been over 7,031 Ukrainian civilian deaths
  • Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons, such as missiles and heavy artillery

Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has wrought suffering and death on a mass scale, with many Russian attacks targeted at civilians.

We’ve created this visual using data from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to better understand how many civilians have died in Ukraine as a result of the war, as well as how many were injured and how many were children.

The Numbers

As of early December, it is reported that 7,031 people in Ukraine have died because of the war — 433 of them children. Another 11,327 have been injured, 827 of which are children. In total, this is over 18,000 people killed or injured.

The figures are difficult to verify due to differing reports coming out of both Russia and Ukraine. The UN OHCHR anticipates that the numbers could be even higher.

The State of the Conflict

The war began on February 24th, 2022 and less than a year in, millions of people have been displaced by the conflict, and thousands of civilians have been injured or killed.

According to the UN, most of the civilian deaths have been caused by wide-ranging explosives such as heavy artillery shelling, missiles, and air strikes, and have been concentrated in Donetsk and Luhansk and in other territory still held by Ukraine.

Additionally, new estimates from Kyiv report approximately 13,000 Ukrainian military or soldier deaths, which has yet to be confirmed by the army.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights monthly reports on civilian deaths in Ukraine.

Note: Data on deaths and injuries can vary wildly depending on the source.

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