News / Africa

S. Sudan Bumps Somalia as Most 'Fragile' State

A U.N. peacekeeper stands guard at the U.N. Mission in South Sudan base in Malakal, where some 19,000 people have been sheltering in this 2014 file photo.
A U.N. peacekeeper stands guard at the U.N. Mission in South Sudan base in Malakal, where some 19,000 people have been sheltering in this 2014 file photo.
Catherine Maddux

Every year for the past 10 years, The Fund for Peace, in partnership with the Foreign Policy Magazine, has released an index of the world's most fragile states, based on the analysis of mountains of data.

And if there is a headline to this year's index, it is that South Sudan is now the world's most fragile nation, displacing Somalia, which has held the top spot for the last six years.

The two organizations have tracked South Sudan since 2012, not long after it became the African continent's newest country. 

But in the short time since its birth, it has suffered from chronic instability, said J.J. Messner, co-director of the yearly index and Director of Sustainable Development & Security at the Fund.

"The reason for South Sudan's position has much to do with its increasingly fractious politics among the leadership," Messner said. "And, perhaps even more importantly, the growing ethnic element to the violence [there]."

Somalia, which Messner said has made some progress toward creating a functioning government, is no longer number one, but only dropped one spot.

In fact, six of the index's top 10 most fragile states are African countries, joined by Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti and Pakistan.

North Korea

While ranked at 26 out of a total of 178 countries, index researchers found some unexpected hope in the circumstances of North Koreans. In other words, while still highly unstable, North Korea demonstrated evidence of incremental improvements.

"For example, there are still significant tensions between North and South Korea, but they are perhaps not quite as intense now as they were a few years ago," said Messner.

But Messner warned that could change at any moment, as fragility and stability tend to be cyclical for countries that are not truly and soundly sustainable.

US worsens

One surprise was the appearance of the United States on the index's list of the top 10 nations whose circumstances worsened over the past year. 

The lower score was largely based on intense political infighting between the Republican-led House of Representatives and the Obama administration, which led to a partial shutdown of the United States government in October 2013 – a humiliation for the world's leading democracy and largest economy. Add to that the intense controversy swirling around the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency, as exposed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

"Fragility is something that all nations need to be concerned about," said the Fund's Messner, adding that the ranking serves as a reminder that fragility is not exclusive to developing countries.

Iran improves                                                                                          

Iran, on the other hand, came in as the most improved country on the index, improving its standing over the past year.  

Tehran, while under fire for its stubbornly theocratic government both domestically and internationally, took several gradual, but what the Fund called "important steps," over the past year. Among them: a rise in total health care spending, progress in emergency responses to two earthquakes in 2013 and a greater willingness to hold nuclear talks with the West.

All the rankings are made based on a given country's performance on 12 defining indicators, such as demographic pressures, poverty and economic decline, brain drain, conflict among leaders, and levels of foreign assistance.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
June 27, 2014 11:29 AM
In this new century and millennium humanity cast back dictatirsships and vultures against freedoms and human right The peoples of states fragile must respect the humanitarian agencies that are working of the grund


by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 26, 2014 3:19 AM
Wait a minute, Fund For Peace, you indexes must be biased. I mean most nations with a high concentration of Islam is at the top of your list, in the red zone as it were. That's so unfair to the 'peaceful' religion of Islam. OK, enough of my reverse sarcasm. The list has Iraq safer than Syria. That's a head-scratcher because Syria is feeling some relief that the rebels are focusing on Iraq right now. The safest places in the world are European, and countries with higher concentrations of Christians and Caucasians. Oooooops, was that racial and religious prejudism. Well, maybe check that list before you judge. I didn't make that list up, but ALL of you will be surprised who is behind this list. Ouch.


by: BS Jones from: New York City
June 25, 2014 7:44 PM
Interesting story. I was surprised to learn that fragility and stability tend to be cyclical for countries. And good for The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy Magazine for calling out the political dysfunction in the U.S.


by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
June 25, 2014 7:07 PM
Finally Somalia is changing the course towards positive direction, but we have got to admit that this is not celebrative news. We know that we have a very long treacherous way to reach the point of normality! To sustain this condition, Somalis need to decimate completely the murderous terrorists Al Shabaab.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid