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Last Updated:  Monday, 3 March, 2003, 13:55 GMT
Brazzaville - 'world's worst city'
Tank in Brazzaville
Brazzaville is 5km from the war-zone
Brazzaville is the worst city in the world to live, according to a new survey.

The capital of Congo was ranked below Baghdad and Bangui in the Central African Republic.

The BBC's Said Penda in Brazzaville says that about half of the city's houses are still in ruins because of the decade-long civil war.

He says that you never know when there will be electricity and some areas of the city only have water for two hours a day.

"Nevertheless, I would never have guessed it's the world's worst place to live," he told BBC News Online.

Congo's second city, Pointe Noire, came in fourth-bottom of the survey commissioned for Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

Good mobile phones

African cities took up 17 of the bottom 20 places, while the Swiss city of Zurich came top.

"It will take time for many of those African cities to recover from such prolonged periods of political and economic turmoil and to re-establish stable, law-enforcing democracies," said Slagin Parakatil, a senior researcher at Mercer.

Brazzaville: 215/215
Bangui: 214
Baghdad: 213
Pointe Noire: 212
Khartoum: 211
Ouagadougou: 210

In June 2002, fighting in Brazzaville claimed some 200 lives.

Most recent clashes have been in the Pool region, which is just 5km from central Brazzaville.

For many years, Said Penda worked in Mali, which came in at 202 of the 215 cities surveyed.

"The mobile phone network is much better in Brazzaville," he said.

However, our correspondent says that it is incredibly expensive to get access to the internet in houses.

This leaves cyber cafes as the only way of logging on for all but the richest people.

Bangui more dangerous

The United Nations estimates that there are some 40,000 weapons in the hands of Congolese civilians.

Pointe Noire

The analysis was based on an evaluation of 39 quality of life criteria for each city including political, social, economic and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport and other public services.

In a related survey, Bangui was ranked the world's least safe place to live.

Since a coup attempt in 2001, rebels have entered the city on several occasions, before being driven back by government allies - either Libya or the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) rebels from the DR Congo.

Abidjan in Ivory Coast was the world's second most dangerous city at the end of last year, when the survey was taken.

UN warns of disaster in Congo
23 Jan 03 |  Africa
Thousands displaced in Congo
30 May 02 |  Africa
Violence, fraud mars Congo poll
27 May 02 |  Africa
Country profile: Republic of Congo
27 Mar 02 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Republic of Congo
22 Feb 02 |  Africa

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