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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

World Humanitarian Day: A day to mourn

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by Dr. Talemoh Dah.
August 19 is World Humanitarian Day. It is laudable as a designation to recognize humanitarian workers still on duty or caught short by death in active service. But, it is a day to mourn. It is a day to mourn, not the lost humanitarian workers, but humanity’s depravity. Although humanitarian crises are partly caused by natural disasters, humanity’s depravity is responsible in the main.
Mankind has advanced on all fronts technologically, but not so in behavior. Communication, travel, entertainment, education, medicine, knowledge of religion, science, engineering, legal system, etc, have never got to this level. We are likely to shine at any planetary fair, should there ever be such a thing. But we are regressing from the seeming behavioral advancement our forefathers made after the abolition of slave trade and termination of colonialism: so humanitarian crises rage on.
Throw a piece of meat to any two dogs, trained Alsatians or local breed. They will never in this life sit together and decide to share it into two equal parts but must fight so the winner takes all or gets the larger share. Leave an ear of grain to two goats and you get the same results. This primordial selfishness has remained in mankind and has defied technology and reasoning. Humans, and by extension, countries must fight over land, wealth and religious or ideological supremacy.
The refugee crisis in Europe is as a result of struggles for supremacy in creed because it is no longer possible for some belief systems to tolerate divergence in faith or the manner it is understood. Elsewhere and here at home, people preparing for election swear they even know how each of us is going to vote and prepare to unleash mayhem on the country (poor same us, still) if they are not declared winners. They pile arms and use everything to mobilise for this. Whether their wishes are achieved or not, the rest of us are in trouble, for they or their opponents will carry out their plans. The result is people dying or escaping from their comfortable abodes to cross district or national borders clad in one dress for months and with no food to eat.
While boko haram was killing and making the sound of bombs to be as familiar to citizens as ring tones in telephones, the same human behavior was operational. How could America designate our dear boko haram a terrorist organization and by extension our country? It became a national discourse like the old debate about the desirability of taking the IMF loan in the late 80s. What was at risk here was our good reputation as a nation but not the lives of poor northeast indigenes getting used to kinsmen slaughtered or bombs being detonated. The people died and are dying in their thousands, they were kidnapped and are being kidnapped and the safer towns were forced away from far away farms. A humanitarian crisis has resulted and is persisting, all because we will not accept early that boko haram, later discovered to be the most deadly terrorist group, was such.
Another human behavior in the boko haram thing is that resources meant for fighting insurgency were pillaged and pilfered by the same people entrusted with the responsibility of protecting us. They take a great part of the blame for the lingering insurgency.
Now we are again debating while gunmen sack people from villages and farmland, ensuring no food is grown and hunger looms. Our primordial ethnic sentiments are at work again to create a humanitarian situation.
I cannot total the ecological funds given to states in Nigeria. They are far-sighted preventive measures but men to whom they were entrusted used them as they wished because of human depravity. So desertification will rage unabated, gully erosion will eat away lands every year, floods will worsen and oil spill will deprive people of their means of livelihood daily. The end of each is humanitarian crisis.
Every day, someone in position favours one group of people over others. Every day, we hear local or regional champions rant unpalatable and infuriating things against another group so he/she can gain some selfish honour. Every day and continuously, they use this heavy egoistic and divisive hammer to drive a wedge between groups and sow hatred among different people. The ‘’accident’’ waiting to happen is a large scale tribal, religious or regional violent conflict that will cause humanitarian crisis.
About a decade ago, an epidemic of renal failure was noticed among children. This was traced to some medicine conceived by greed and manufactured using wrong chemicals through the lowest standards. We lost most of those children. Imagine if it was not noticed earlier, or if it was something consumed by thousands every day. A humanitarian crisis will occur. In the same professionally dubious enterprise, buildings and bridges collapse, trains derail, and lead poison thousands now and then.
So we must mourn our depravity and mourn it on this day, August 19th.
Talemoh Wycliffe Dah is a consultant gynaecologist based in Abuja. He can be reached on talemohwdah@yahoo.com

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