According to a report by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company to The Economist, South Sudan is the saddest and most miserable country in the world.
South Sudan: gained independence in 2011 and has been in a state of crisis for almost all of its existence. Inflation has been above 150% since early 2016. The presidential and parliamentary terms run until July 2018, but there will either be no elections or at best a flawed one. Either could herald a deeper disaster. The UN is warning that persistent tribal conflict could lead to genocide.
The country has fallen apart in all but name. Conflict between the army and tribal militias has led to widespread suffering. According to UN Agencies unpaid troops loot aid convoys with impunity. A third of South Sudanese have fled their smouldering homes to avoid being killed and hunger. Many huddle in UN camps, and women are raped if they venture out for firewood. Some 6m people face acute hunger, and 1.7m are on the brink of famine. If security remains poor, and the rains are meagre (again), the country could easily tip further into crisis. Nowhere will be more miserable in 2018.
Yemen comes the second. It was already the poorest country in the Arab world even before its current civil war. But since early 2015 more than 10,000 civilians have been killed and 3m-4m internally displaced (closed borders make leaving the country difficult). Yemen is now on the brink of famine and is suffering from the largest cholera outbreak in modern history (over 750,000 suspected cases, and rising). The worst is probably yet to come.
That is hard to beat, you might think. Alas, several countries in sub-Saharan Africa will give Yemen a run for its misery. They include Burundi (one of the world’s poorest countries, slipping into a deepening dictatorship); the Central African Republic (where sectarian violence is pushing out aid groups and refugee flows are increasing the risk of the country splitting into a Muslim north and a Christian south); and the Democratic Republic of Congo (where an intensifying political crisis risks destabilising its whole region, amid violence that displaced nearly 1m people in the first half of 2017).