By Tamara Alfred
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

In an index of failed states compiled by Fund for Peace and released by Foreign Policy this week, Somalia has topped the list for the fourth year in a row, followed by Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Somalia, out of a population of nearly 10 million, as many as three million are thought to be in need of humanitarian assistance.  Another two million have been uprooted in the nation’s conflict with Islamist insurgents who have pledged their allegiance to al Qaeda.  According to the United Nations, the country has not had a fully-functioning national government since 1991.

Demonstrators in Mogadishu protesting the United Nations mission in the country.  (Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.)
Demonstrators in Mogadishu. (Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)

J.J. Messner, a Fund for Peace senior associate, told CNN that just because a country is high on the list does not necessarily mean it is a failed state, but that it is facing enormous social, economic and political pressures.

“Bur for many countries, very little is, sadly, changing,” Messner said.  “We see that for many countries there is very little improvement.”

Coming in second on the list was Chad.  Only 23% of Chadians in urban areas have access to clean water and that number is even lower in rural areas due to a lack of sanitation facilities in the country.  Life expectancy is at a mere 49 years of age.  Most of the government’s money, despite being fairly wealthy from oil discoveries, goes to the purchase of arms to ward off rebel groups.

Sudan, ranked third, and its troubles have been well-documented.  Violence has spread recently from Darfur to Abyei and Southern Kordofan as the nation prepares to separate into two.  According to Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, more than 360,000 people have been displaced in Sudan in the last six months, adding to the already 2.7 million forced from their homes since fighting began in Darfur in 2003.

The Democratic Republic of Congo came in fourth on the list.  Often referred to as the “Rape Capital of the World,” the UN approximates that 200,000 women have been raped there since armed conflict between various militias began in the late 1990s.  In the eastern part of the country it is still commonplace for soldiers to use sexual violence against innocent villagers.  The nation will face a big test in November when it holds a presidential election nearly a decade after its civil war officially ended.

The criteria used in ranking the states included mounting demographic pressures, mass movement of refugees or internally-displaced persons, vengeance-seeking group grievance, chronic and sustained human flight and uneven economic development.  Additional criteria included legitimacy of the state, violations of human rights and rule of law and progressive deterioration of public services.

Three other African nations rounded out the top ten: Zimbabwe (#6), Central Africa Republic (#8) and Cote d’Ivoire (#10).  Only three non-African nations made the top ten: Haiti (#5), Afghanistan (#7) and Iraq (#9).

For more information, please see:

Afrique en ligne – African nations top 2011 Failed States Index list – 23 June 2011

Foreign Policy – The Hall of Shame – 22 June 2011

CNN – Somalia is again at top of failed states list – 21 June 2011

Foreign Policy – Postcards from Hell, 2011 – 20 June 2011

CNN – Despite rallies supporting him, Somali PM steps down – 19 June 2011

Author: Impunity Watch Archive