If there will be a chart of the crises that bedevil the world as at today, humanitarian crises will be top of the chart. Most recently, the Hurricane Mathew caused loss of many lives in the Americas and displaced many. In the Middle East, the Syrian civil war has displaced millions and killed if not more. Thousands have been killed and millions displaced in our immediate environment, north east Nigeria. As these crises loom, humanity has the urge to come together, and revisit its role, both in causing the conflict as well as in resolving it.
Tellingly, the international humanitarian law and international organizations such as the United Nations have been quite insufficient in their approach to the conflict. One can even argue that the instruments have failed in their mandates with the rise of refugee exodus from the Middle East to Europe and America and from Africa to Europe etc. the rise of insurgencies and the rise of intolerant governments presuppose a reverse to days of yore.
It is high time then we looked beyond the international organizations or interventions, and review our respective roles in the crises.
- Role of societal superstructures
We will like to see the role that the various superstructures in the society play in dealing with these crises; first we will like to see the role of our respective conscience as human beings. Whether the principles that guide our day-to-day executions, are in tandem with relieving humanitarian crisis the world over? We will like to analyze the role of the economy, our cultures and our social relations in causing and also in subduing these crises.
- Religions and non-religions
And we cannot talk about our conscience without talking about our respective faiths; religion, or something bigger or something smaller. How much they shape our responses to humanitarian situations. Virtually all religions are replete with provisions on kindness, altruism among others. In fact this altruism is a building block of humanism. So it might be argued that there are well laid down principles on positive engagements of humanitarian crisis’ victims, but is it enough to state, to list? Are human beings living up to their religious or nonreligious dictates of conscience? Do we actually give a damn about our neighbors? But ultimately, I will like us to answer the bigger question, why do we do good things?
Are our religions actually humanistic in principles and in practice? In recent times, acts that are considered humanistic include gender equality, abolition of corporal punishment, respect for human dignity, abolition of slavery, child labor, treatment of animals etc.
- Humanitarian crisis
A humanitarian crisis (or “humanitarian disaster”) is defined as a singular event or a series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety or well being of a community or large group of people. It may be an external or internal conflict and usually occurs through a large land area. Local, national and international responses are necessary in such events.
Examples of humanitarian crisis include armed conflicts, epidemics, famine, natural disaster and other major emergencies. If such a crisis causes large movement of people, it could also become a refugee crisis. As such, humanitarian crises are often interconnected and complex and several national and international agencies play roles in the repercussions of the incidences.
- Collective responsibilities
What have you done as an individual to see that these crises are resolved, what are our institutions doing to bring palliatives to affected personnel in the war against these endemics.
- European individualism/ equality
The principle of European individualism upon which the humanitarian movement was based was that all human beings are of equal moral significance and it was the disregard for that significance that constituted the abuses against which the movement was directed. European individualism can be traced to Greeks. It was the stoics, who like Aristotle, attributed significance to the human soul and considered all human beings equal in that significance. For example, prevention of cruelty to animals includes an extension of the application of this principle.
- Humanitarian crisis in Nigeria
Our most immediate humanitarian crises in Nigeria are the continued displacement of persons in the north east, and continued assaults on such displaced person, both by terrorists and unfortunately by Government negligence. There are reports of continued abuse, including rape of internally displaced persons in the north east and embezzlement of funds meant to relieve the suffering of these people.
- Digital humanitarianism
There are emerging trend such as “Digital humanitarianism” or “crowdmapping” or “crowd sourcing”, where social media can benefit the humanitarian sector by providing information to give situational awareness to organizations for broad strategic planning and logistics. Since we live in a digital age, innovations such as these are needed to curtail humanitarian crises.
- Way to go
Albeit efforts by many a nongovernmental organization on the threatening humanitarian crises in the region, it is obvious that the society is not doing enough as a whole to prevent the sufferings of these people. Is it that our moral codes are not viable in their mandates? Or that human beings have turned schadenfruedes on the yearnings of their majority.
- Ushering the topic
It is these, among plenty other questions that we seek answers to, from personal and professional experiences, and from the critical minds of our beloved TAIT MEMBERS.
HUDU ISIAKA IBRAHIM