The 2020 Fragile 15: Behind the FSI Rankings, Lives Upended
Unsurprisingly, the states ranked at the top of the annual Fragile States Index are also home to some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian crises: Yemen, you won’t be surprised to learn, tops the list again this year. Yes, Somalia is right behind, again; it has held the first or second place on the index since 2008. Chad has been among the world’s most fragile states since the start of the FSI, in 2005.
To be fair, dwelling on the “most fragile” countries on the list risks overlooking some of the more positive stories out there. Haiti, for instance, has steadily improved in its rankings since the devastating 2010 earthquake and was “most improved” overall in 2018. This year it made more progress, though it’s still among the top 15, as you’ll see below. J.J. Messner, executive director of the Fund for Peace, which produces the Fragile States Index, points to several “quiet achievers” this year, including Uzbekistan, Cuba, and Côte d’Ivoire. “This is not to say that any of these countries are perfect – far from it,” he notes. “However, they are worthy of some credit for positive reforms fuelling overall measurable development.”
In fact, Messner suggests humanitarians might find that a more useful measure than “most worsened” is the rate of change over time, i.e. which countries are worsening most rapidly? Mozambique, he points out, is ranked 27th on the list, but over the past decade it is the sixth most worsened, “behind the ‘more obvious’ humanitarian emergencies evident in places like Libya, Syria, Mali, Yemen, and Venezuela”.
The indicators used by the FSI to assess fragility tell a familiar story, ranging from “refugees and IDPs” to “human flight” and “brain drain”. Our on-the-ground reporting tells that story more fully, through the individuals whose lives are reflected in those indicators: Makiah al-Aslami, a nurse who runs a malnutrition clinic in Yemen and told us of “hungry people added on top of more hungry people”. Or Mickerlange Noisy, who describes her life in Haiti this way: “Kids can’t go to school, you can’t find work. You go to a market… and all of sudden you are surrounded by gunfire.”
Read on for more on what life in a “fragile state” means on the ground in the 15 countries at the top of the FSI, with our editors’ takes and recent reporting on each.
For the past 16 years, the Fragile States Index (FSI), produced by the NGO Fund for Peace, has ranked 178 countries based on 12 political, social, and economic indicators, looking at inequality, displacement, security, public services, and external intervention. For each indicator, the FSI gives a score out of 10, with 10 being the most fragile and zero being the least fragile. The higher the score and the higher the ranking, the higher the level of fragility. To measure fragility, vulnerability, and risk, researchers use algorithms and content aggregators to scan more than 10,000 public reports, triangulating that information with pre-existing quantitative data sets and independent social science reviews of each of the 178 countries.
Needs and shortages abound
‘Hungry people added on top of more hungry people.’
FSI ranking: 1
Ranked the world’s most fragile state and often the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, it is Yemen’s widespread food insecurity that most often grabs headlines. But after five years of war and economic collapse, the needs go far beyond hunger, with almost 80 percent of the country – 24 million people – in need of some sort of assistance.
And while needs abound, so do shortages. The World Health Organisation says only half of the country’s health facilities are fully functioning, and there are rarely enough beds, medications, or doctors to staff them. The economy has collapsed, there is not enough foreign currency, and intermittent fuel shortages drive up the prices of cooking and transport. Many people are forced to rely on aid organisations for access to clean water.
At the same time, even as the parties to the conflict talk behind the scenes, on the world stage, and even announce ceasefires, the country is bitterly divided into more than just two parts. When flare-ups in violence force people into flight, those trying to help them often find the displacement causes “hungry people added on top of more hungry people”. This is what people like nurse Makiah al-Aslami, who runs a malnutrition clinic in northern Yemen and let TNH shadow her in late 2019, deals with every day.
Yemen is also an extremely fraught place for people like al-Aslami to do their jobs, with aid workers often put in danger and allegations of fraud and diversion widespread. The UN says “the operating environment in Yemen has become one of the most non-permissive in the world”. This has caused major donors to threaten to slash aid to the country, and sometimes to follow through on those threats.
At a glance:
24 million Yemenis need some sort of humanitarian assistance
11.6 percent of the population is considered malnourished
Two million children are out of school (out of seven million school-aged children)
Five years of war
Climate and conflict
‘We are lacking all resources, including the expertise to prevent a humanitarian disaster.’
FSI ranking: 2
President Mohammed Abdullahi “Farmajo” won elections in 2017 on a promise of comprehensive reform: he stands again in early 2021 on a decidedly mixed record.
Many of Somalia’s woes are beyond his control. Since 1990, there have been 30 climate-related crises, but 2019 seemed a particularly bad year. There was a major drought, then widespread flooding. On top of that came locusts, devouring farmers' crops, and a new generation has now hatched in northern Somalia, which will head south in even larger numbers. “We are lacking all resources, including the expertise to prevent a humanitarian disaster,” said a local official.
One area where Farmajo is faulted is the fractious relationship between the federal government and the five regional states. With unresolved questions over federal versus state power, Farmajo is accused of preferring confrontation. In March, federal forces clashed with troops from the semi-autonomous Jubaland region, in a dispute that dragged in neighbouring Kenya. Mogadishu was accused of trying to overturn an election result in favour of a loyalist it wants in place before upcoming national elections, which will introduce a one-person one-vote system for the first time.
The country has been at war for close to three decades – a conflict that has magnified Somalia’s recurring humanitarian emergencies. For 14 years the battle has been with the jihadist group al-Shabab. Farmajo has made little progress with his under-strength national army, despite the support of African Union troops and Western special forces. Mogadishu is repeatedly bombed by the al-Qaeda-linked group – the last big attack in December killed 100 people. Despite its violence, al-Shabab navigates complex clan politics and provides basic order and services in areas it controls – and it’s often seen as less corrupt than state officials.
At a glance:
One third of the population, 5.2 million people, are in need of aid
2.6 million people have been forced from their homes
1.1 million people are in a food crisis (IPC phase 3+)
Another go at peace
‘The whole country is traumatised.’
FSI ranking: 3
South Sudan is the closest it has been to peace and stability since civil war broke out four years ago – for a second time. A new power-sharing transitional government was inaugurated at the end of February, which includes former rebel leader Riek Machar as first vice president and some of his most senior lieutenants. As insecurity eases, aid agencies now have far greater access to the countryside, where humanitarian needs remain huge.
But a couple of sizable potential spanners remain. In what has become an ethnicised conflict, local-level politics is key to the success of the peace agreement. Governors and administrators are still to be appointed to the country’s 10 states and three administrative areas. When that finally happens, their ability to manage community tensions and rivalries will be critical. South Sudan is broke – civil servants have not been paid in months, and food prices are rising – which will make the task all the harder. The government relies on oil revenue for 98 percent of its budget and the crash in global prices could not have come at a worse time. “In the past [President Salva Kiir] has tried to essentially buy off aggrieved warlords; this will limit the ability to appease those groups,” said analyst Alan Boswell.
The politics is playing out against a backdrop of a humanitarian crisis in which some six million people – more than half the population – are going hungry. In parts of northern Jonglei State, hit by heavy flooding in 2019, some 20,000 people are suffering IPC Phase 5 “catastrophe” levels of hunger. But it’s not just food aid that’s needed. After years of war, “the whole country is traumatised”, said Mary Poni, who, like so many, has witnessed horrors. “We all really need help,” she said.
At a glance:
South Sudan became independent in 2011 – the first civil war started two years later
The conflict has killed 400,000 people
7.5 million people – nearly two thirds of the population – are in need of aid
2.2 million refugees are sheltering in neighbouring countries
Ten years in, uncertainty reigns
‘It’s impossible to get over the fear, or to find a sense of safety.’
FSI ranking: 4
After more than nine years of violence, there is still no victor in Syria’s long war, and talk of “democratic transition”, so common in years past, has become hushed. Syria’s war has created a recipe for fragility on multiple fronts. Civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, homes, and schools, has been destroyed, and large-scale reconstruction does not appear to be in the offing. The economy is also in tatters, with the situation dramatically worsened by the fiscal crisis in neighbouring Lebanon, where, because of US sanctions, most Syrian businesses (and war profiteers) do their banking.
While President Bashar al-Assad’s government controls much of the country, some pockets are still controlled by rebels or Kurdish groups, alongside the significant presence of Turkish and Russian troops. This means the daily lives of many civilians in the country remain marked by instability and a lack of certainty about what the future might bring. Starting in December 2019, nearly one million people fled a government offensive into the rebel held northwest in the span of just three months. Before that, hundreds of thousands were forced to run from a Turkish offensive in the northeast. Many Syrians have seen their lives upended multiple times over the course of the war, and they don’t know if they can count on ceasefires (like the one currently in place in Idlib) to keep them safe. As Mohammad Al Hosse, a Syrian journalist who had to leave his hometown of Homs and covered bloody events in Idlib, told TNH in March: “It’s impossible to get over the fear, or to find a sense of safety.”
At a glance:
Syria entered its tenth year of war in March 2020
5.6 million registered refugees live outside Syria
More than 6.1 internally displaced people reside inside the country
11 million people need some sort of humanitarian assistance
The Democratic Republic of Congo
A perfect storm
‘In a normal conflict, the enemy fights the army. Here, they come for the civilians.’
FSI ranking: 5
Congo’s President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi may have come to power in dubious circumstances in January 2019, but his first few months in office showed signs of promise: political prisoners were released, exiles were invited back home, and fees were ended for primary school education.
Now, in his second year, things aren’t looking so rosy. An Ebola epidemic – the world’s second deadliest – has resisted efforts to stamp it out, sickening over 3,400 people and leaving more than 2,200 dead. The world’s worst measles epidemic has silently ripped through the country’s 26 provinces, taking more than 6,000 lives – the vast majority children. And a cholera outbreak has passed 30,000 cases.
Conflicts are flaring too. In the eastern region of Beni, hundreds of civilians have been killed in a series of gruesome massacres that began late last year. Blame has been laid at the door of the Allied Democratic Forces militant group, but other armed groups may share responsibility. “In a normal conflict, the enemy fights the army,” Jeanette Sikulomba, the chief of an all-but-abandoned village in Beni, told TNH in January. “Here, they come for the civilians.” In northeastern Ituri province, an ethnic Lendu militia known as CODECO has been blamed for a spate of killings that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. And, in South Kivu province, local conflicts have been amplified by foreign rebel groups and rising tensions between the Great Lakes states.
Key allies to Tshisekedi are meanwhile facing graft allegations in a setback for a president who promised to break away from the corruption that characterised his predecessor, Joseph Kabila.
Central African Republic
‘The peace deal brought nothing. Power remains in the hands of armed groups in the provinces.’
FSI ranking: 6
When rebel groups in the Central African Republic signed a peace deal in January 2019, it was the eighth attempt at resolving the country’s now seven-year conflict. Though the deal has contributed to an overall reduction in violence, armed groups have continued to clash with one another, and political tensions are now rising ahead of presidential and legislative elections slated for December.
What began in 2013 as a conflict between the mostly Muslim Séléka rebel alliance and the mostly Christian and animist anti-balaka has long since morphed into a multifaced conflict with no clear battle lines. Recent fighting between rival factions of the FPRC – one of the largest of the ex-Séléka groups – underlines the complexity.
The fresh violence comes at a time of heightened political tension in the country, following the return of former rebel leader and ex-President Michel Djotodia after years in exile and of the man he overthrew, Francois Bozizé. Both may try to run in the coming elections.
The humanitarian situation remains as dire as ever, with more than 600,000 Central Africans living as refugees and over 700,000 internally displaced – all in a country of just 4.6 million people. “The peace deal brought nothing,” Rockson Mayounga, a member of a political opposition group, told TNH in September. “Power remains in the hands of armed groups in the provinces.”
At a glance:
More than 700,000 people are internally displaced; over 600,000 live as refugees
$533.6 million was requested to meet humanitarian needs in 2020, only 22% is funded
Political tensions are rising ahead of elections slated for December
Flash floods late last year displaced tens of thousands
‘Déby feels he is losing control... that he and his security forces are overwhelmed by problems.’
FSI ranking: 7
Chad sits at the heart of the heavily militarised Sahel region and has been among the world’s most fragile states since the start of the FSI. All signs suggest it's likely to stay put.
In March, Boko Haram militants killed almost 100 Chadian soldiers in the deadliest ever attack on the country’s security forces, while some 20,000 people were displaced in subsequent military operations led by Chad’s ruler of 30 years, Idriss Déby.
Déby has won several elections since coming to power in 1990 and enjoys significant diplomatic support from the West thanks to his role in combating Boko Haram. But his record on human rights, as well as a severe economic crisis due to falling oil prices, have inspired protests and strikes in recent years.
Security threats are multiplying too. In the northern town of Miski, tensions over gold mines led residents to form a self-defence group that clashed with government forces last year, while French warplanes had to intervene to protect Déby from rebel incursions by the Libya-based Union of Forces of Resistance. Inter-communal violence triggered Déby to declare a state of emergency in August, while tensions in Sudan’s Darfur region have pushed tens of thousands of refugees into eastern Chad in recent months. “Déby feels he is losing control... that he and his security forces are overwhelmed by problems,” Richard Moncrieff, central Africa project director for the International Crisis Group, told TNH in October.
At a glance:
More than 200,000 people are internally displaced in Boko Haram-affected Lac province
Tens of thousands of Darfuri refugees have fled to Chad in recent months
5.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance across the country
A stalled revolution
‘The great risk is that Sudan cannot even afford a peace process.’
FSI ranking: 8
It has been more than a year since the overthrow of Sudan’s long-time ruler, Omar al-Bashir. But the new transitional government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is struggling. An assassination attempt on the premier in March underlined the fragility of the revolution.
It was protests over rising food prices that brought the crowds out onto the streets against al-Bashir, leading to his eventual removal by his generals in April 2019. The price of bread – the key gauge of inflation – is once again rising, and there are fuel shortages and power cuts. Help from Sudan’s multilateral creditors is blocked until the country is removed from Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, and donors also want to see economic reforms, including the politically sensitive removal of fuel subsidies.
The wars, fought in protest over Khartoum’s neglect of its peripheries, are essentially over. But the political settlements to cement peace have been delayed – with the leaders of the two biggest armed groups so far steering clear of the political process. They argue that the military, which shares power with civilians in a sovereign council, retains too much influence – and is working to protect its economic and political interests.
It’s in the peripheries – Sudan’s so-called Three Areas of Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan – that humanitarian needs are greatest. The government has lifted previous restrictions on aid work, but key issues such as the return of displaced people, land rights, and security sector reform complicate the final peace settlements. “The great risk is that Sudan cannot even afford a peace process,” said analyst Magdi el-Gizouli.
At a glance:
Some 9.3 million people – 23 percent of the population – need aid in 2020
58 percent of households cannot afford a basic daily food basket
The transitional government holds power until elections in 2022
The Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid faction is the only armed group still fighting
‘Everyone needs food, but there’s less available in the market. Soon, only the wealthy people might be able to eat.’
FSI ranking: 9
Afghanistan doesn’t contend with just a single emergency, but a series of interlocking challenges that have wedged the country among the FSI’s 10 most fragile for the past 16 years. Afghanistan is ranked ninth despite slight improvements to its score on a combination of indicators including rights, public services, “brain drain” caused by migration, and demographic pressures.
The country faces conflict on multiple fronts, chronic displacement, weak governance, under-development – particularly in its health sector, and a stumbling economy unable to absorb the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who return or are forced home each year.
After decades of war, there was hope that fitful negotiations with the militant Taliban would usher in a degree of stability. Taliban and US negotiators signed a peace treaty in February 2020, but the violence continued as parties stumbled before the next hurdle – direct talks between the Taliban and a factionalised government.
Conflict casualties continue to hover near record highs, including more than 10,000 killed or injured in 2019. Yet it’s not just war that threatens civilians: prolonged drought and floods also drive displacement and food insecurity: more than nine million Afghans were estimated to need humanitarian aid in 2020 – up from 6.3 million a year earlier. But even this rising figure was based on projections made before the coronavirus pandemic injected new volatility: “Everyone needs food, but there’s less available in the market,” Mahmod Azizi, a Kabul vendor, told TNH in April as border closures sent market prices soaring. “Soon, only the wealthy people might be able to eat.”
At a glance:
9.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance
14.28 million people faced crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity in early 2020
10,392 civilian casualties (3,403 deaths and 6,989 injured) from conflict in 2019
In 2019, more than 900,000 people returned to Afghanistan or were newly displaced by conflict or disasters
Hikes in humanitarian need
‘I blame this government. You can rig the election, but you can’t rig the economy.’
FSI ranking: 10
Zimbabwe is facing its worst humanitarian emergency in more than a decade. Food shortages are affecting 7.7 million people – more than half the population – as a result of successive poor harvests and hyperinflation. Cereal production last year was less than half the national requirement, and the 2020 harvest is expected to be even worse.
Initial hopes that President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ended the 30-year rule of Robert Mugabe, would initiate political and economic reforms have died. They were mortally wounded in a violent crackdown on protests over the 2018 election. They finally expired when it became clear that Mnangagwa, and the military that helped him to power, aimed to continue “Mugabe-ism”, but without the guile and charisma of the man himself. Political infighting within the ruling elite points to the fragility of that coalition. But, for most Zimbabweans, it is the mismanagement of the economy that’s the more serious matter. “I blame this government,” said one struggling citizen. “You can rig the election, but you can’t rig the economy.”
In an attempt to win Western donor backing, the government introduced cost-cutting measures at a time when an estimated 77 percent of urban families could not afford all their food needs. Last year, the economy shrank by eight percent. There were 18-hour power cuts; the collapse of water supplies and sanitation services in urban centres; fuel queues and currency shortages. The banning of the US dollar as legal tender effectively devalued everyone’s earnings – a decision that has since been rescinded. A strike by doctors and nurses last year to protest pay and conditions only ended when a local tycoon stepped in to help pay their allowances. They downed tools again in March over the government’s lack of preparation for coronavirus – part of a much broader crisis in the healthcare system.
At a glance:
The official inflation rate is 540 percent
4.3 million Zimbabweans are “acutely food insecure”, up from 3.8 million last year
The security forces killed 17 people and raped at least 17 women in crushing price-rise protests in January 2019, according to Human Rights Watch.
Suffering in silence
‘The government is pushing back on international pressure, trying to convince international actors that everything is alright.’
FSI ranking: tied 11th
Burundi has been in turmoil since 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a disputed third term in office, triggering waves of political violence that forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee to neighbouring countries. Now, five years on, presidential elections are approaching once again – and allegations of killings, arrests and other abuses are increasing by the day.
In January, the ruling CNDD-FDD party picked its secretary-general, Evariste Ndayishimiye, as its presidential candidate, ruling out the possibility of Nkurunziza seeking re-election. But a recent report by the Burundi Human Rights Initiative said the party and its feared youth wing, the Imbonerakure, has continued to commit abuses – particularly against the opposition CNL party, whose members have been beaten to death and buried in secret cemeteries. The UN has warned that security forces, local authorities, and Imbonerakure are creating “a climate of fear and intimidation” ahead of the May polls, while refugees are being cajoled and threatened into returning home.
Much of this is happening behind closed doors, with foreign journalists rarely able to obtain press visas and local reporters and civil society groups silenced by the CNDD-FDD. Last year, though, TNH reporter Sam Mednick managed to pay a rare visit, documenting a humanitarian crisis – including a malaria outbreak and food shortages – that the country has been desperate to deny. “The government is pushing back on international pressure, trying to convince international actors that everything is alright,” Nelleke van de Walle, deputy project director for Central Africa for the International Crisis Group, told Mednick in August.
The language of war
‘Until they kill me, I’ll do my best to fight, until I get my independence.’
FSI ranking: tied 11th
Cameroon jumped a bit higher on this year’s FSI as a slow-burn insurgency in the country’s two English-speaking regions in the west turned far more deadly. The rising power of the separatists, demanding secession from the majority-francophone country, was demonstrated by their ability to effectively block parliamentary and municipal elections in February in the anglophone-majority Northwest and Southwest regions.
The security forces’ response has been increasingly heavy-handed as the four-year conflict deepens – including extra-judicial killings, torture, and burning of villages, according to Human Rights Watch. The enlistment of local ethnic militia by the army is widening the conflict and encouraging rights abuses. President Paul Biya offered “special status” to the two anglophone regions at the end of 2019, but the concession was widely viewed as too little too late. Separatist groups, accusing the government of deliberately marginalising their regions, are demanding secession for what they refer to as Ambazonia. “Until they kill me, I’ll do my best to fight, until I get my independence,” said one fighter. Attempts at talks are believed to be underway, but bridging the divide between an authoritarian Biya – in power for almost four decades – and the many separatist groups remains a challenge. Publicly, the issue of negotiations with the secessionists is taboo.
Despite the humanitarian needs, aid agency access is limited by both the insecurity and the security forces, who accuse them of colluding with the separatists. “They don’t want external eyes there to see what is happening,” said a UN official. While the anglophone conflict grabs the headlines, there has also been a resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in the Far North Region, including abductions, mutilations, and forced conversions.
At a glance:
2.3 million people are affected by a separatist conflict in anglophone regions
600,000 children are out of school
Only 34 percent of health facilities are operating
Anglophone Cameroonians account for 20 percent of the population
One step forward, one step back
‘Kids can’t go to school, you can’t find work. You go to a market… and all of sudden you are surrounded by gunfire.’
FSI ranking: 13
Haiti – which has steadily improved in its rankings since the devastating 2010 earthquake, the ensuing cholera outbreak, and subsequent hurricanes – made several slight improvements in economic inequality and managing environmental or population stresses, but it slid in economic improvement, state legitimacy, and the provision of public services. The Caribbean country moved from a score of 99.3 in 2018 to 97.7 this year but it is still considered less stable than Iraq, Venezuela, and Benin. Haiti continues to be the poorest nation in the western hemisphere and is one of the most vulnerable places in the region to environmental disasters such as hurricanes and floods.
“It feels like you’re on your own in Haiti,” says Mickerlange Noisy, 40, a single mother of seven who makes a meagre living selling rice. “Kids can’t go to school, you can’t find work. You go to a market… and all of sudden you are surrounded by gunfire.”
Haiti was convulsed by more than a year of protests that shut schools, caused food prices to skyrocket, and put a strain on public services. The protests began with anger over a spike in fuel prices and expanded with calls for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who, along with others, was accused in an embezzlement scheme involving Venezuelan aid funds meant for the Haitian poor. Food insecurity has been heightened because of the instability, with more than 4.6 million – nearly half of Haiti’s population of near 11 million – in need of food aid. Economic losses have also affected the country’s weak healthcare and education system.
At a glance:
4.6 million people in a population of 10.9 million are in need of humanitarian assistance
Nearly 33,000 people still live in displacement sites following the 2010 earthquake
Access to water and sanitation is the lowest in all of the Americas
Feet of clay
‘To reform Nigeria is better.’
FSI ranking: 14
Nigeria is wobbling. Earlier territorial gains made by the military against a jihadist insurgency in the northeast have been lost; bandits roam the northwest; there have been bloody clashes between farmers and pastoralists in the centre; and a general insecurity prevails over much of the rest of the country.
In the northeast, the army has retreated to a handful of garrison towns, ceding control of the countryside to Boko Haram, limiting humanitarian access. Army patrols are routinely ambushed. In March, dramatic video footage emerged of the theatre commander, a hard-charging general, messaging Abuja to say he was outgunned and being outflanked. He was relieved of his command. On the islands of Lake Chad, the Islamic State of West Africa Province (a breakaway group from Boko Haram) have created a proto-state and are encouraging the displaced, marooned in poorly serviced camps, to join them. In Zamfara State in the northwest, bandits have shifted from cattle-rustling to abductions – with whole villages displaced in their attacks. Across the country, kidnapping is a growth industry – from the southern city of Port Harcourt to the gates of the capital.
The violence underlines the inability of the state to perform its core function of protecting its citizens. In response, there has been a resurgence of vigilantism. Six southwestern states have set up their own security outfit – a move seen by some as a step toward secession. Nigeria’s ageing President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise of change seems hollow. Nigeria is home to the wealthiest men and women on the continent, but has the most extreme levels of poverty in the world.
Abdullahi, displaced from his home town of Baga in 2019, is scathing over the failure of successive governments. But when asked by TNH if he would join the jihadists, like many from Baga have done, he replied: “To reform Nigeria is better”.
At a glance:
The Boko Haram conflict began in 2010 and has so far killed 40,000 people
At least 1.5 million people have been displaced
Approximately 1.2 million Nigerians are beyond the reach of aid agencies
50 percent of Nigerians live in ‘extreme poverty’
‘Guinean security forces have confronted popular protests with brutal violence.’
FSI ranking: 15
Guinea has a long history of coups, authoritarianism, and deadly crackdowns on opposition supporters. Now, tensions are rising again after the country’s first democratically elected leader, Alpha Condé, enacted a controversial new constitution that critics say may allow him to seek a third term in office. The 82-year-old says the constitution – approved by referendum in March – will help the country introduce new social reforms, particularly for women. But opponents say it will reset presidential term limits, enabling him to govern for 12 more years.
More than 30 people have been killed in clashes with security forces since widespread demonstrations against the constitution began late last year, according to Human Rights Watch. An opposition umbrella group known as the FNDC said at least 10 more were killed on the day of the referendum. “Guinean security forces have confronted popular protests with brutal violence,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Life for ordinary Guineans, meanwhile, has barely improved since Condé came to power in 2010, with poverty still widespread and social services hard to come by. A recent bauxite mining boom has created new revenue streams for the government and thousands of jobs, but it has also had a negative effect on rural communities.
At a glance:
New constitution could enable Alpha Condé to rule for 12 more years
Dozens have been killed in recent anti-government demonstrations
Guinea has the world’s largest bauxite deposits