DGI Brief - Oct 11, 2016
This year, the WORLD Health Summit addressed only marginally one of the greatest problems faced by displaced populations – refugees, migrants & internally displaced – as well as those unable to leave conflict or disaster areas… mental health. Why it matters: even Western countries struggle with mental healthcare for its citizens, often dubbed ‘silent sickness’, so mental health for people in developing countries & war zones can seem to be at the bottom of priorities. But unfortunately it is everything but that. We see PTSD, trauma, severe emotional distress & depression among children & adults alike. Not addressing mental health of survivors of war - refugees & migrants included – is considered by many health experts a problem “possibly of epidemic proportion”. How can people, communities & societies prosper if they are sick? The World Health Summit promises to make mental health a big agenda item next year, but until then we need to heal people’s psyche as intensely as we provide food, shelter or education.
HAITI: Hurricane Matthew caused tragic devastation across Haiti & the exact human toll extent is still only emerging as more areas are accessed, little by little. At least 1000 people died. The UN estimates that over 1.4 million people need urgent humanitarian assistance, in particular warning against the rise of cholera due to lack of clean water, damaged & poor sanitation infrastructure causing contamination. Why it matters: Haiti is one of the most impoverished countries, with over 70% of the most affected areas living in poverty. Haiti has been facing years of severe food shortage & malnutrition. The tragedy is widespread – loss of human life, livelihoods, of the strides made in development efforts, the lack of funding as humanitarian actors face multiple massive emergencies around the world. It seems overwhelming. If you can, please donate to your trusted aid group, even a little will help. The development community understands that recovery & rebuilding efforts will have to focus on sustainability & climate change/natural disasters resilience.
Following last months report saying that BURUNDI’s security forces engaged in massive human rights violations when thousands of people were tortured, sexually abused or disappeared, the government suspended all activities of the UN human rights office that generated the report. It also blocked 3 UN investigators from entering the country. The security forces cracked down on civilians after protests turned violent when President Nkurunzinza sought & won a 3rd term last year. The government also announced plans to pull out of the ICC. Why it matters: Deep respect for anyone that can accept responsibility for wrongdoings, appreciate the push & suggestions for accountability & transparency, commit to justice… clearly not the case of Burundian government who instead of trying to right its crimes & build trust with its citizens is racing to the bottom of being a dictatorial state.
SYRIA: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) call for urgent end of the Syrian-Russian bombardments of & the siege of Aleppo as the situation grows beyond dire. Eastern Aleppo (rebel-held) has only 35 doctors & 21 ambulances left, only 7 doctors can perform surgery. The siege that began in July threatens to leave the few hospitals & health facilities without power due to lack of fuel. Why it matters: If these life-saving facilities lose power? If Syria & Russia continue their war crimes against unprotected civilian populations? What a sickening legacy of our time.
TURKEY’s parliament extended the state of emergency yet again claiming government needed more time to flush out Gulen’s supporters to prevent another coup attempt. Meanwhile, president Erdogan addressed Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi with a slew of insults as tensions between the neighbors rise. Turkey has troops in Iraq’s Bashiqa region to train anti-ISIS fighters & refuses to withdraw or be left out of the military operation to liberate Mosul, being planned for the end of 2016. Iraq rightfully sees this as a violation of its sovereignty. Why it matters: The purge against any possible ounce of opposition, dissent or basic freedoms in Turkey continues with the extended state of emergency – the government & its security apparatus have almost unlimited powers with such decree. But Erdogan’s rhetoric against Iraq’s leader is very dangerous. Is Turkey’s call reasonable that once liberated, Mosul’s demographic structure must remain? Yes. Predominantly Sunni & ethnic Turkmens must not be replaced by Shi’a or Kurdish rule. But telling al-Abadi to ‘know his place’ or that “you are not my interlocutor, you are not at my level, you are not my equivalent, you are not of the same quality as me” only plays into the hands of al-Abadi’s opponents, driving the political divide, undermining his legitimacy, emasculating him & this can have dire consequences as Iraq attempts to move forward.