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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora