World peace has deteriorated steadily over the last seven years, with wars, militant attacks and crime reversing six earlier decades of gradual improvement, a global security survey reported Wednesday.

Conflict in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and the Central African Republic in particular helped drag down the annual Global Peace Index, according to research by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace. The data run until March and therefore omit the recent flare-up in Iraq's insurgency and the separatist violence in Ukraine.

Rising numbers of people were killed in militant attacks across the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, while murder rates rose in the emerging world's growing urban centers. More people also became refugees by fleeing fighting.