Well, the Commonwealth Games came to an end this evening, and have been hailed an “incredible success“. (Those who live, work or have businesses in the CBD might disagree. I for one do, but I digress!) As athletes and officials return home, the fate and whereabouts of 12 athletes from the African nation of Sierre Leone remains unknown. The 12 missing athletes were part of an original team of 22. Team chef de mission, Mohammed Alpha Kaba, refused to comment on the situation as his plane left Melbourne. (See The Age’s report here). The previous games, held in Manchester in 2002, saw 21 members of a team of 30 flee. And who can blame them? A brutal civil war raged throughout the country between 1991 and 2002 that killed or displaced over a third of the population. Despite the last UN peacekeepers withdrawing in December 2005, instability in the region threatens progress towards Sierra Leone’s stability. For those returning to Sierre Leone, there is not much to look forward to. As the table below shows, life must be grim and short. That said, it is typical of conditions across Africa.
To the 12… RUN!

AUS
SLE
USA
OPEC*
Population (in millions)
20.09
6.017
295.734
Life Expectancy
80.39
39.87
77.71
77.74
Infant Mortality Rate**
4.69
143.64
6.5
6.3
HIV/AIDS Adult Prevelance Rate
0.1%
7.0%
0.6%
Literacy
100%
29.6%
97%
Unemployment
5.2
n/a
5.1
7.1
Population Below Poverty Line
n/a
68
12
GDP per capita (2004, in US$)
32800
800
41800
28500
UN HDI Rank***
3
176
10

Notes:
* The OECD, or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, share a common “commitment to democratic government and the market economy”. Its members consist almost entirely of advanced industrialised countries. Its members are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
** Infant Mortality Rate is the number of deaths per 1000 live births.
*** The UN HDI is a comparative measure of poverty, literacy, education, life expectancy, childbirth, and other factors for countries worldwide. The ranking indicated is for the 177 nations with a HDI score. The rankings place Sierre Leone is second last place, up one spot from 2003. Only Niger scored worse. (Norway was ranked number one for the fifth consecutive year).
Sources: CIA World Factbook, OECD, The UN.

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