Yet another year of carnage has come to an end with the close of 2008 and yet again, we are doomed to see many familiar faces on Polo’s Bastards Annual Top 10 Worst Destinations. We’re sure some of these countries are beginning to get a complex, but luckily for them there are also plenty of others that deserve dishonorable mentions and maybe even a place on next year’s list. But without further ado, let’s get into the worst places list for this year.
Iraq – Despite some massive security improvements this year, Iraq is still a long way from Club Med. Even though the official legal sanction for US troops to be in Iraq expired on December 31 they are still there. So are a bunch of bad guys. Then some not so bad guys. Well, they all have guns and the place is still not exactly challenging Sweden in the stability stakes. Great improvements this year, but not good enough to slide down our list.
Afghanistan – 2008 was the year that foreign troops suffered their highest death toll against the Taliban. The capacity of the central government to control the country continued to be pitiful and the internation community got even more apathetic about everything. If Obama tries the surge tactic that was used in Iraq and the rest of the world gets interested, things might improve, but we don’t see this one falling off the list even next year.
Somalia – Well, at least the pirates seem to be doing well for themselves! They even managed to score themselves a few tanks this year which made some important people sit up and take notice. Of course, as long as they’re not stealing too much of the passing maritime traffic, nobody is really going to care what they do in the capital or anywhere else. A shame for the 300,000 undernourished children who make this the country with the highest levels of malnutrition in the world for 2008.
DRC – We suppose it was really the ebola outbreak in December that really put the cream on this pie of misery. ivilian massacres, refugees, cross-border incursions, the place has it all!
Gaza – Well, they almost got through the whole year without too many major catastrophes. Almost. Neither side seems to really want peace and when politicians get involved…. well, you know the rest. The carnage continues as we write this.
Sudan – With the government so entrenched in the economic capital of Sudan and so intent on allowing the mayhem to continue, it’s difficult to see this country slipping off the top 10 list for a while. 2008 saw the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC accuse Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, of war crimes. Time will tell if that comes to anything.
Zimbabwe – Mad Bob has the country locked down tighter than tupperware and if Zibabwe didn’t deserve a place on our list last year, then it certainly did for 2008. With cholera epidemics, a refugee crisis and a $50 Billion note that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on, Zimbabwe is going over the precipice of complete melt down.
Pakistan – When your own “ally” starts launching cross border raids into your territory to clean up the business that you are unable or unwilling to take care of, you know there is something wrong. At least 2008 saw the decline of Pervez Musharraf in elections. Time will tell if the new crew will do any better, but we’re not holding our breath.
Georgia – Well did Georgia decide to attack their Russian neighbours? Did Russia decide to be a bully? Whatever you think, this one has been on the cards for a few years. When the second largest recipient of foreign aid happens to be a former Soviet block state, you know the peace isn’t going to last forever. Cooler heads prevailed after plenty of people and places got destroyed. The break away regions got closer to a permanent state of break away. Georgia got further away from NATO membership. And the world was reminded that Russia isn’t going anywhere just yet.
Myanmar – We were actually a little surprised that Myanmar made the list for the seond year running, but Cyclone Nagaris which spraked one of the biggest aid non-responses from its own government means Myanmar has that privelege. While the carnage wasn’t as bad as we were all told it would be, that probably has more to do with luck and the resilience of the Burmese people than any good planning on the part of their government.
Now despite our top 10 list, you still might like to be a little careful in some other countries too. Don’t go drinking milk in China, don’t stay at the Taj in Mumbai and don’t get involved in politics in Kenya for example. But if, like us, you have the very good fortune to be born into a country where these things aren’t such a big deal, then spare a thought for our less fortunate cousins around the world.
Rob Wood and Steve Strommer