Sadly, recent years have seen the world become a more dangerous place. In the last seven years, there have been dramatic declines in safety and security in Africa, the Middle East, and all other regions globally except for Europe, which has actually witnessed some decline. The data presented in this article is based on The Legatum Prosperity Index, 2015. The main focus is put on its ‘Safety & Security’ sub-index, which takes several variables into consideration to rank countries based on relative danger and safety. The classification criteria include state-sponsored political violence, property theft, assault, safety walking alone at night, and many more. For our purposes, each of the top 10 most dangerous (least safe) countries will be investigated separately to provide an in-depth view into their respective security situations.
10. Kenya - Living in the Wrong Neighborhood
Do you know that feeling when your friends tell you that your apartment or region is dangerous, based on how your neighbor was behaving when they met him? Believe it or not, this analogy is quite relevant in case of Kenya. After their military intervention in Somalia, extremists linked to Al-Shabaab, a militant group in Somalia opposed to the central Somali government, have issued public threats against Kenya. Because of this, areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somalia border are advised against all but essential travel, due to the high threat of kidnapping or frequent incursions by Somali militants operating against Kenyan defense forces. Terrorist attacks occur in other parts of the country too, with one of the most notable among them taking place in April of 2015, when at least 148 people were killed. Kenya also suffers from several issues involving crime unrelated to Somalia, as mugging, car-jacking, and armed robbery occurs regularly in its larger cities.
9. Nigeria - Struggles for Power
One of the most recent major violent events in Nigeria took place on December 12, 2015. That day a clash in Zaria, a city in Kaduna State, between the Nigerian Security Forces and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria broke out, and ultimately resulted in a number of deaths. The main focus of the Islamic Movement organization is to establish Islamic law in Nigeria, and remove western influence from the country. Due to their hatred towards westerners, kidnappings and terrorist attacks on places frequented by foreigners are a real threat in Nigeria. Moreover, can a country be safe if one cannot even assume every uniformed officer intends to protect and serve? This has become an issue as loyalties, police and military included, have become increasingly blurred. Lastly, there is a serious threat of maritime attacks, as rogue pirates patrol the Nigerian coastline in search of oil freights.
8. Iraq - A Land of War
Subsequent to the Iraqi Civil War that has been taking place since June of 2014, the country is divided into 3 factions. These include those under the control of the officially recognized Iraqi central government and Shi'ite militias fighting with them, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) working with Sunni insurgents, and, finally, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the sympathizers aiding the Kurdish forces. To make a long story short, after the withdrawal of US troops from the area in masse in 2011, Sunni militant groups stepped up attacks targeting the country's majority Shi’a population to undermine confidence in the government, also led by Shi’as. In 2014, the insurgency escalated their efforts dramatically, contributing to the current Syrian Civil War. From June of 2014 through early December of 2015, 28,885 civilians had died from the violence and, all together from the time of the U.S.-led deployments in early 2003, almost 170,000 civilians have died from related violence. As if these wars were not enough, there is also a very high risk of terrorism in the country, with even greater threats of attacks taking place in the capital city of Baghdad.
7. Chad - Fighting Extremism
Besides a small part of the border with Cameroon, all other terrains, even near the borders, are advised against all travel, even for essential reasons, for residents and visitors across the country. Considering that Chad lists among its neighbors Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria, all of which also make the list of the Most Dangerous Countries in the World, this assessment can certainly be understood. With Boko Haram (an Islamic extremist group based in northeastern Nigeria next to the Chad border, having alleged links to al-Qaeda) attacks in Northern Nigeria causing economic disruption also in Chad and other countries, such as Benin, Cameroon or Niger, they have all joined a military coalition against the Boko Haram insurgency, becoming a common opposing force against the extremists. Due to this, in June and July three terrorist attacks took place in the capital city of N'Djamena, wherein a total of 59 people were killed. Moreover, there is also a high level of violent civilian crime in the country as well, especially those associated with kidnappings and robberies. Therefore, aside from terrorists, Chad has to deal with general lawlessness and danger within their everyday society as well.
6. Sudan - Going to Extremes
In Sudan, there is almost no likelihood of being mugged on the streets, and even traveling alone for women is relatively safe if they are dressed according to custom. Indeed, opposed to the other countries on the list, over a half of the territory of Sudan is not advised against all travel. This means that, after seeking some basic advice to familiarize yourself with regional activities and atmospheres, you can travel pretty safely. There are two regions though (South Kordofan and Darfur) which are extremely dangerous. South Kordofan’s governor, for example, has previously been charged with war crimes against civilians and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. On the other hand, there has been a regular war going on in Darfur since 2003, where Sudan’s Revolutionary Front fights the Government of Sudan. Due to this, 2.3 million people have been displaced and it was estimated that in 2014 around 3.5 million people in Darfur-which is about half of its population-needed some kind of aid. Add to that over 300,000 people killed overall (as estimated by the UN) and you will understand why Sudan is the sixth most dangerous country in the World.
5. Pakistan - War and Terrorism
Located in South Asia, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has been classified as the fifth most dangerous country in the world. Terrorism is said to be the biggest reason for its current state of insecurity, with high threats from terrorism, kidnapping, and sectarian violence present throughout most of Pakistan. The British government specifically mentions the heightened threat of terrorist attacks and kidnappings of western nationals as the biggest concerns for visitors there. Furthermore, travelling anywhere outside the Pakistani capital city of Islamabad is being strongly advised against by Western officials. Another reason for Pakistan’s placement in this top 5 is the ongoing conflict that has permeated the nation since 2004. With a total of more than twenty thousand civilians killed throughout this period from war-related incidents, general safety and security within the country has to be assessed as being very low. With Taliban suicide attacks on so called "western institutions" on one side, and drone strikes being conducted by the United States and other Western forces fighting them on the other, Pakistan has to be considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
4. Central African Republic - A State of Lawlessness
According to The Legatum Prosperity Index 2015, the Central African Republic is the fourth most dangerous country in the world. Being one of the poorest countries in the world, the Central African Republic deals with a multitude of administrative, infrastructural, and economic problems which influence the country’s placement among this infamous top five list. Following a military coup in 2003, the situation across the country remains very dangerous to this day. Threats to civilian safety, including armed rebel groups, very high rates of violent crime, and general lawlessness, are the main reasons for everyone from international bodies to commercial travel websites trying to dissuade prospective visitors from travelling there. Reports of violence, reprisal killings, looting, and human rights abuses continue to occur across the country, and the capital and largest city of Bangui is not an exception. Indeed, how is a city supposed to be safe if its police resources are not up to the task, with victims of crimes having to pay taxi vehicles to pick up police officers to come to the crime scene in some cases? If situations like this occur in Bangui, the most well-developed and regulated place in the nation, the rest of the country is unlikely to be faring any better.
3. Syria - A Living Battlefield
As we witness countless Syrian migrants and refugees arriving in Europe today, it leaves little doubt among Westerners that Syria is an unsafe country. The Syrian Civil War, which began in early 2011, has caused more than 76,000 civilian casualties, and nearly 300,000 people have been killed overall. If we consider this in perspective of a population that stands at around 17 million people, and then take into account the multitudes of Syrian refugees dispersed globally as well, we can see how few Syrians believe that living within the country is safe. Due to the ongoing war, most of the people that are able to escape have taken the opportunity or are planning to do so, seeing it as possibly being their only chance of survival.
2. Afghanistan - A Terrorized State
Neighboring Pakistan (which is also among the world’s most dangerous countries), Afghanistan also makes an appearance in the least safe countries worldwide. Just as in Pakistan, terrorism is the biggest security problem for Afghanis as well. Serious large-scale terrorist incidents, including suicide bombings and attacks using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (IEDs), occur regularly throughout Afghanistan. Even in the modern city of Kabul, where the frequency of attacks has increased significantly in 2015, one cannot feel safe or secure. Being the home for many Taliban insurgents (an Islamic fundamentalist political movement), Afghanistan was a battlefield between them and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) between 2001 and 2014. As in many of its neighboring countries, the kidnapping of Westerners is a serious threat, even within Kabul and surrounding districts. Aside from the terrorist threat, Afghanistan also has the 5th highest Crime Index in the World, making it the worst of all the countries mentioned in this article in that context.
1. The Democratic Republic of the Congo - Danger and Rampant Crime
The title of the world’s most dangerous country goes to the Democratic Republic of Congo. People within the territories near its Eastern and Northern borders are advised against all travel, no matter how essential, due to the unstable situation. A rampant series of kidnappings, mutilations, and rapes are said to be occurring there. Across the whole of the country, there is a high risk of street crime and armed robbery, not only at night, but at all times. What is more, robberies by gangs of street children are becoming increasingly common and more aggressive. Walking alone should be avoided by all means, and people there have to remain cautious even while in the company of police or army personnel who may we be corrupt and working in coordination with street criminals. Surprisingly, there is a low threat of terrorism there.