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Afghanistan is the unhappiest country in the world – even before the Taliban came to power last August. That’s according to a so-called World Happiness report released Sunday ahead of the UN-designated International Day of Happiness.

The annual report ranked Afghanistan last of the 149 countries surveyed, with a happiness rate of just 2.5. Lebanon was the second saddest country in the world, with Botswana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe around the bottom five. Finland is in first place for the fourth year in a row with a score of 7.8, followed by Denmark and Switzerland, with Iceland and the Netherlands also in the top five.

Researchers ranked the countries after analyzing data over three years. They looked at different categories, including gross domestic product per capita, social safety nets, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, population generosity, and perceptions of internal and external levels of corruption.

Afghanistan performed poorly in all six categories, an astonishing result just before the arrival of the Taliban and despite 20 years of US and international investment. The US alone has spent $145 billion on development in Afghanistan since 2002, according to reports from the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan.

Still, there were signs of growing hopelessness.

Gallup conducted a poll in 2018 and found that few Afghans they surveyed had much hope for the future. In fact, the majority said they had no hope for the future.

Years of runaway corruption, rising poverty, lack of jobs, a steady increase in people forced below the poverty line, and erratic development have all combined into a crushing malaise, analyst Nasratullah Haqpal said. Most Afghans had high hopes after 2001, when the Taliban were ousted and the US-led coalition declared victory. “Unfortunately, the only focus was on the war, the warlords and the corrupt politicians,” Haqpal said.

“People just got poorer and poorer and more disappointed and unhappy…that’s why this 20-year investment in Afghanistan collapsed in just 11 days,” he said, referring to the Taliban’s lightning flash across the country before it hit halfway through Kabul. invaded. August.

When Masoud Ahmadi, a carpenter from neighboring Pakistan, returned to Afghanistan after the collapse of the Taliban in 2001, he was hopeful for the future. He dreamed of opening a small furniture factory, employing perhaps 10 people. Instead, sitting in his dusty six-foot-by-three workshop on Saturday, he said he only opens twice a week due to lack of work.

“When the money came to this country, the government leadership took the money and considered it their personal money, and the people were not helped to change their lives for the better,” Ahmadi said.

The report warns that the number of Afghanistan could fall even further next year if it measures the happiness level of Afghans after the arrival of the Taliban. The economy is currently in free fall as the group struggles to make the transition from fighting to ruling.

This post Taliban: The Unhappiest Country in the World in Afghanistan, Even Before the Taliban

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