Fragile states prone to terrorism

Singapore, September 17 :

The World Bank has called for more effective assistance to countries in danger of collapse due to conflict and poverty, which it said make fertile ground for terrorism, crime and disease.

The number of such ‘fragile’ states has risen sharply to 26 this year from 17 in 2003 with some 500 million people. Failure to find more effective ways to help them will foment global instability, the World Bank’s independent evaluation unit said in a report released ahead of the bank’s annual meeting in Singapore next week. Donors’ enthusiasm is often short-lived and these countries are left on their own without credible government institutions, the report stated.

“Neglecting the fragile states — home to 500 million people, half of whom are living in extreme poverty — risks worsening their misery, in turn feeding regional and global instability,” said Vinod Thomas, head of the unit. “The donor community and the Bank must make better use of resources to work with them in the difficult and lengthy transition from volatility and conflict to stability and peace.”

Thomas warned the challenges in these nations, among them Angola, Afghanistan, Haiti, the Central African Republic and Tajikistan, “must be managed before they spin out of control, destabilising these countries and leading to wider security crises.” Fragile states are those embroiled in complex internal conflicts or struggling through post-conflict transitions.

In East Asia and the Pacific, these states include Cambodia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Laos, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The list is dominated by African countries like Burundi, Chad, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan, among others. “Often their instability provides a safe haven for terrorism, drug production and weapon smuggling. These states face widespread lack of security, significant corruption, breakdown in the rule of law and limited government resources for development,” the report stated.

Ajay Chhibber, a director at the evaluation unit, said that instability can easily spread due to globalisation. World Bank research shows that having a fragile state as a neighbour on average results in economic losses equivalent to 1.6 per cent of annual GDP. “Coordinated and sustained multilateral action with a unified vision to reduce the imminent threat coming from fragile countries is more important than ever. Nation-building on the cheap does not work,” he said. There was a need for donors and non-government groups to join forces in providing initial humanitarian and social services in the aftermath of a conflict but it must be complemented rapi-dly by increased investment to b-uild local capacity for long-term.