A considerable amount of human suffering remains underreported. Neither the body politics nor the mainstream media deem some crises worth highlighting. The Norwegian Refugee Council has put together a short video or refugee facts to stand up for the voiceless.
Although the suffering is unspeakable, people like you and me find themselves in some of the worst places to live with few to care about them.
Refugee Facts – The Norwegian Refugee Council Sponsors a Post to Speak Up for the Voiceless
Clearly, it is our responsibility as human beings to reach out to people in dire need including refugees, migrants or anyone else unable to live a life underpinned by safety and dignity.
Charitable organisations are always looking for volunteers on a local or international level. Check with local charities where you are to find out how to contribute or volunteer.
Lobby Politicians and Media Outlets, Share Issues on Social Media
You can make a difference in many different ways. Lobby your local politicians to take action on behalf of people in need. Contact media outlets and submit a story or share videos like this one across your social media platforms.
Without the words and actions of others, the voiceless have little hope of ever finding comfort, dignity, and safety.
As the World Economic Forum in Davos draws to a close, and illustrious political and business power brokers leave the snowy town, one wonders where this leaves the rest of us. Although some NGOs also made representations, only a handful of small anti-globalisation protests took place. Have people suddenly got the answer to the question why is socialism bad and decided to stay away?
In recent times, socialism has become a dirty word, one associated with an unruly far left. Is this tarnish justified? Let’s look at the dictionary definitions of socialism and pitch it against the capitalism-definition.
Reading this definition, one wonders, what’s wrong with socialism? What’s wrong with equality? What’s wrong with sharing equally in a country’s money? Staunch capitalists will cite examples of countless failed socialist regimes and emphasize that socialism simply doesn’t work.
The current upheaval in Venezuela is a prime example of what divides the right and the left. While the US supports and recognizes the opposition leader and calls Maduro out as a undemocratic socialist leader, Maduro supports blame economic sanctions for the dire state of the Venezuelan economy.
How Did Socialism Get Such a Bad Name?
Capitalists don’t like the restrictions socialism places on economies. Instead, they propagate free market rules designed for growth and economic freedom. Needless to say, they also like low tax rates.
Perhaps one ought to take a brief look back at the history of socialism to understand how this political philosophy came about in the first instance. What’s more, it’s important to understand that socialism has many different applications.
The examples in the video illustrate the vast differences in the application of the socialist model. It appears that the nations combining capitalism and socialism like Denmark and Sweden have been the most successful in promoting economic growth while also ensuring a decent degree of equality.
The USA and Europe illustrate the workings of capitalism, although some countries incorporate elements of socialism into their political system. Countries like Sweden have excellent public services to cater to those who may not be able to afford private healthcare or education.
The 2008 Financial Crisis – Capitalism Goes Socialist
After the 2008 global recession, countless financial institutions required state financial support in what appears to be a contradiction in terms.
If you wear your socialist hat for a moment, you’d have to ask yourself how financial institutions arrived at asking for and taking government bailouts. While sticking to strictly capitalist principles when profitable, the banks suddenly put on a socialist hat and gladly took the cash.
Many governments feared the mayhem that may have been associated with the collapse of the banking sector and jumped in to help without delay. Who footed the bill? The taxpayer, stupid!
The Basic Principles of Socialism v Capitalism in Brief
So, how do the two systems impact on the everyday workings of a society?
government or Co-ops
individuals or Businesses
determined by people or companies
higher taxes for public services
lower taxes to stimulate economic growth
government ensures greater equality
less competition, higher prices
more competition, lower prices
substantial government investment
limited government spending
slower economic growth
equality and better public services
stronger economic growth
This is a simplistic view of capitalism and socialism. The real impact also depends on world economic factors, political stability, and international relations. Moreover, most economies combine the two political philosophies, each creating and implementing its own socialism&capitalism cocktail.
Socialism – Good or Bad?
In theory, socialist principles are worthwhile. Unfortunately, its pure application is nigh unachievable.
Capitalism – Good or Bad?
One only needs to bring to mind the ever-widening wealth gap to grasp the very serious and catastrophic downsides of pure capitalism. Only one year ago, the Guardian reported that 42 individuals held the same amount of wealth as 3.7 billion of the world’s poorest people.
Socialism v Capitalism
Socialism and capitalism are wide open to abuse. In its principles, socialism promotes equality and fairness – something that no one can argue with.
Smartly combining capitalism and socialism appears to be the best way to provide citizens with a decent standard of living while promoting economic growth.
In the migrants or refugees head-to-head, the word migrant has been – rightly or wrongly – gaining traction. So, what defines a refugee? Here’s the UN definition.
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
Without a doubt, this definition leaves out anyone who leaves behind their country of origin for economic reasons. People who do, are therefore migrants.
The Double-Standard Approach to Migrants
Developed nations often take a double-standard approach to migrants. On one hand, non-nationals can live and work in often badly-paid positions, while on the other hand, they lack full access to services and benefits. During the refugee status application period, migrants or refugees are often housed in sheltered accommodation. This makes it difficult for them to integrate into the larger community, creating a wedge between nationals and non-nationals. Because they find it more difficult to access gainful employment, elements of the indigenous community begin to view these non-nationals as freeloaders. By the same token, if a migrant secures a good job, she or he is – to some people – stealing a job from a deserving national.
Ironically, the economies of most developed countries rely significantly on migrants.
Are Migrants Undeserving Freeloaders? Would You Pack up and Leave?
True, millions of people are migrants – not refugees. Does that make them undeserving?
Social Justice Poem – Migrants not Refugees
Call me migrant if you wish.I know, I understand. If you were to call me a refugee, you'd have to look after me. So, here I am, straight off the boat,paperless and blown ashore by nothing but desperation and hope. My kid drowned during the crossing on the captainless boat. Long gone were the merchants we bought the hope of a better life from, handing over the life-savings of our entire tribe. You're quite right, we are not fleeing war or persecution or torture. Just trying to save ourselves from infested drinking water, hopelessness, and a deadset lack of prospects. You see, from afar, you have everything and - I must confess - I want some of it. But no, I don't want your job, nor your house, nor your money, nor your wife. Nor am I a crusader on a quest to take your land. By the way, I've got a college degree but would be happy to clean your house.
Reflecting on the meaning of Christianity this Christmas, I ponder the relationship between Christianity and social justice. Although Christmas is laden with commercialism, the true meaning of Christmas and what Jesus stood for emerges.
Christ had a simple message:
30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a]31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”
So, if Jesus lays love at the foundation of everything we do, Christianity and social justice must go hand-in-hand. This becomes even clearer when we read Mary’s Song:
“My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
Are we to see more anti austerity protests around the globe now that the #yellowvests / #giletjaune protests in France have yielded some results? In many parts of the world, the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis has been shouldered by the working poor. Governments introduced austerity measures to bring countries back to prosperity. Meanwhile, the banks’ fortunes were quickly turned around through public finance bailouts without financial institutions feeling any significant pain.
In countries like the UK, Ireland, and France, this has led to significant financial hardship among ordinary people. Increased taxes, benefit cuts, and a lack of state spending on essential services have driven thousands of people into poverty. In the UK, foodbanks have never been busier, and, both in Ireland and the UK, homelessness continues to cost lives.
The recent #yellowvestprotests in Paris have provided insight into the frustration felt among ordinary people, not just in France but likewise in the UK, Ireland, the US, and beyond. So, are we to see more anti austerity protests?
What Are the #YellowVests Demanding?
In recent weeks, the anti austerity protestors took to the streets of Paris to voice their anger about a 20 percent hike on diesel. But their demands don’t stop there. People in France are seeking a redistribution of wealth, including raising the minimum wage, social security payments, and pensions. In the true spirit of liberté, égalité, fraternité, the protestors are deeply frustrated by the elitism of the establishment and President Macron himself.
After weeks of violent clashes, Emanuel Macron yesterday addressed the nation.
For opponents of austerity measures, Macron’s concessions will ease some frustrations. But are the Paris anti austerity protests going to mobilise people who share the same anger across the globe?
Wednesday, October 17 is the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty Day. World poverty statistics are harrowing, so you might ask yourself, how can I help end poverty? But before we look at ways of eradicating world poverty, let’s look at the relevant statistics.
World Poverty Statistics
According to the World Bank, efforts to eradicate world poverty are having an impact. Whereas in 2013, eleven per cent of the world population lived in extreme poverty, this number fell to ten per cent in 2015. This means that the number of people living on $1.90 per day fell from 804 million to 736 million, worldwide.
The rate of improvement slowed considerably. Between 1990 and 2015, extreme poverty rates dropped by approximately one percentage point each year, which means there was a 36 per cent decline in world poverty during that time. Since then, progress in this area has slowed. According to the World Bank, this decline is due to political instability and conflict.
Sub-Saharan Africa has, in fact, seen an increase in extreme poverty. More than half of the worlds poor lived there in 2015. Unless significant changes come about, the World Bank excepts the extreme poverty rates in Sub-Saharan Africa to remain in double-digits right up until 2030.
The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on $1.90 per day. It is important to point out that this definition is questionable. Furthermore, the World Bank also reports that in 2015, almost half of the world population lived on less than $5.50 per day.
What Are the Current Anti-Poverty Drives and How Can I Help End Poverty?
Eradicating world poverty requires a multi-faceted approach. The World Bank has identified the following areas. If you’re asking, how can I help end poverty, these issues are key:
Tackling climate change
Empowering local governments and local communities to tackle poverty
Managing and providing aid to disaster areas
Increasing education rates is seen as a key factor in the eradication of poverty. According to UNESCO, 264 million children had no access to education in October 2017.
Providing electricity to the 1.3 billion people living without power
Fighting hunger and malnutrition
Giving access to finance to the world’s poor
Providing access to clean water and sanitation
Promoting communities and holding governments accountable
The UN along with not-for-profit organisations worldwide have been working in all the above areas. You can imagine that a wide variety of skills are necessary to tackle them. This means people of many different professions are needed. Joining an aid organisation or government agency is one way of helping to eradicate poverty.
How Can I Help End Poverty?
If you want to join the fight against poverty, you can do so in your local area or abroad. Here are some ways to help end poverty:
Make Your Skills Available to an Aid Agency: Regardless of your profession, your skills will allow you to help end poverty. Aid agencies require people of all job types.
Join a Political Party or Group: Find like-minded people who are already working to end poverty.
Become a Lobbyist: Lobby local politicians and businesses to raise awareness and seek support.
Start a Campaign: Set up a campaign to end poverty in your area. Raise relevant issues, contact media outlets, and use social media platforms.
Become a Fundraiser: Raise funds for an anti-poverty organisation.
Volunteer: Not-for-profit organisations are always looking for volunteers, locally and internationally.
Start a Business and Create Jobs: Providing someone with employment is a sure way to contribute to the fight against poverty.
Why Lobbying, Politicians and Businesses Is Crucial
Think about it. As an individual, you have little influence. Joining a group or organisation is more effective. But why is lobbying politicians and businesses so important? The reasons are obvious. Politicians can bring about legislative change to help eradicate poverty. Try to influence government budgetary decisions and fight for fair wages among businesses. Here are some areas where lobbying is essential:
Fight to provide housing to homeless people
Fight to provide affordable healthcare
Fight to enshrine a decent minimum wage in legislation
Fight for access to (higher) education for the poor in your area
Fight for access to training and employment
Social Diversity is Key in the Fight Against Poverty in the Developed World
Poverty exists everywhere, even in the developed world. If you live in what is considered an affluent society, you’ll also find people struggling to make ends meet.
Poverty has a significant impact on self-esteem. One way to fight the poverty stigma is to build diverse communities.
Tackling the Shame of Poverty
Sadly, poverty causes a sense of shame. By reaching out whatever way you choose, you can help fight the poverty stigma.
In recent days, Saudi Arabia has been in the headlines because of its government’s suspected killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This is a welcome development as the spotlight reaches further, highlighting the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Perhaps Kashoggi’s violent death will make Saudi Arabia’s Western allies rethink their support for its brutal role in the civil war.
Although the UN along with aid agencies working on the ground in Yemen have been drawing attention to the horrific plight of Yemeni civilians, the international community has been slow to react. Both the US and UK have continued trading with Saudi Arabia despite the countries brutal response to the uprising.
In April 2018, the UN Secretary-General made the following remark to a donor conference in Geneva:
“Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. As the conflict enters its fourth year, more than 22 million people – three-quarters of the population – need humanitarian aid and protection.”
Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres
Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen – The Statistics
The civilian population has been bearing the brunt of the bloody civil war. At this point, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has escalated, leaving millions of people at risk of starvation and death.
This is the video that the UN released in March 2018:
22 million (75 per cent) are in need of humanitarian aid
60 per cent are lacking food
Less than half of all healthcare facilities are operating
56 per cent of people do not have regular access to medical help
Nearly three-quarters of the population lacks clean drinking water
Nearly three million women and children are malnourished
Food prices have increased by 98 per cent
These statistics were published in March 2018. Since then, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has worsened considerably.
Yemen May Face Worst Famine in 100 years – UN Spokesperson warns
Irish journalist, Orla Guerin, who is based in Cairo, compiled a news report for the BBC. Returning to sites she visited two years ago, she says the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has got a lot worse.
In the course of the report, the BBC reporter also spoke to UN spokesperson, Lise Grande.
International Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen
Civilians in Yemen have asked the international community to act, yet so far, this has, indeed, been an ignored humanitarian crisis. Many countries across the globe continue to export arms to Saudi Arabia. Imposing an arms embargo appears to be out of the question despite Saudi Arabia’s brutal response to the uprising.
In the wake of the death of Jamal Khashoggi, politicians across the globe have suggested imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia. However, little political will seems to exist, and the Saudis have warned of rising oil prices should the international community impose such sanctions.
Donald Trump made it clear that he wouldn’t like to stop trading with Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia Appears to Admit to “Interrogation Gone Wrong”
We await the international community’s response to breaking news suggesting that Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit that the journalist died as a result of an “interrogation gone wrong”. (source CNN).
It remains to be seen whether the brutal death of Jamal Khashoggi will provoke an international response – one that the death and suffering of millions of Yemeni civilians failed to produce.
So, you’re asking how can I make a difference in the world? I will tell you right now: Choose Your Leaders Carefully – Shop Ethically!
I’ve been thinking about equality and justice or the lack thereof. My heart goes out to the people all over the world who suffer the worst kinds of plights, tragedies, and atrocities. I’m in the privileged position of living in a peaceful place. But even here, inequality exists, and I was wondering two things:
What responsibility do I bear?
What can I do to alleviate other people’s suffering?
In the midst of this, I came across a wonderful poem by June Jordan. Entitled “Apologies to All the People in Lebanon”. The poem manages to display the multi-faceted nature of international politics and the very real and often horrid consequences for people at the receiving end of political decisions. At the same time, the poet makes a connection between the leaders we choose and the suffering we may end up causing, wittingly or unwittingly.
Another topic that has been bothering me over the last few days is financial inequality. This is because of Amazon Prime Day and the contrasting reports on Jeff Bezos wealth and his staff’s plight.
But what have underpaid Amazon workers and Palestinian refugees got to do with me? Well, I guess to start with, I do care. After much thinking, I realized that – as an individual – I am a voter and a consumer. I can exert my power through the ballot box and my spending choices. If I care, I can choose political candidates who will alleviate suffering rather than cause more, and I can choose to purchase products from companies who treat their workers fairly. Alone, I won’t make waves with this strategy but if enough people do this, ruthless politicians won’t win elections and ruthless company directors will see their empires crumble. So, how can I make a difference in the world?
We are Voters and a Consumers – Let’s Choose Wisely and Ethically
But how do you become an ethical shopper and how do you choose the right political candidate? For a start, you need to do some research. When it comes to spending your cash, you can check a company’s ethical ratings on the following website:
thegoodshoppingguide.com: This is a UK-based website dedicated to checking out company ethics. Here, you can search for a product and find out what brands rank highest when it comes to ethics. Factors like human rights, animal rights, environmental impact, fair trade, and more beyond make up the ethics ratings on this website.
So, what about ethics in politics? Well, if you’re serious about choosing candidates who operate ethically and are unlikely to drive a harmful agenda, you’ll have to research the candidates in your area. Find out about their past work, their position on issues that matter to you as well as what values and actions their party is known for. Let me give you an example. If you’re against homelessness, check out what each candidate has down to alleviate this issue in the past. What position does her/his party take on it? How successful have they been in combatting homelessness in the past? What plans are they putting forward in their election campaigns? Do this, issue by issue, centering on those topics closest to your heart.
Start or Join a Campaign
Whatever you may say about the ills of social media, it has given social justice campaigners a platform allowing to reach right across the globe. Anyone can start a campaign now, so if you feel strongly about an issue, go right ahead. When you do, you’ll probably soon find hundreds or even thousands of like-minded people and join forces with them. Persevere because change doesn’t happen overnight. Still, if you become a campaigner, at least you’re doing something other than just getting depressed about the state of the world.
Like millions of others, I was delighted to follow the Thai cave rescue of the boys’ football team and coach. Obviously, people do care, but what about the 21 children who die every minute of every day according to Unicef stats? #ChildrenDeserveBetter. The child mortality stats worldwide are appaling.
Appalling Unicef Child Mortality Statistics
Unicef’s report on child mortality makes for grim reading. 29’000 children under five die each day, that’s 21 per minute. What’s worse, these children die from predominantly preventable causes like pneumonia, malaria, lack of oxygen during birth, and other treatable causes. 6 out of the 11 million children who die each year could be saved using simple, easily available means like antibiotics, vaccines, nutritional supplements, bed nets treated with insecticides, and improved breastfeeding and family healthcare facilities.
Two-thirds of these child deaths occur in just 10 countries. Sub-Saharan children are most at risk, while neonatal deaths are most common in South Asia. Unicef, in collaboration with other NGOs and the World Health Organisation, has targeted the following areas to lower the child mortality rates:
Health and Nutrition Interventions: Increase in vaccination rates, the supply of micronutrient supplements, providing insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria, promoting breastfeeding
Health Access and Education: 80 per cent of children die at home, having never been seen by a medical professional. The provision of basic medical care, supplies, and education could reduce child mortality by as much as 40 per cent.
Clean Water and Sanitation: Water-borne diseases like cholera and Guinea worm remain a major killer. Unicef is working with charities and governments across the globe to provide clean water supplies and adequate sanitation.
Crisis Responses: Global children’s charities like Save the Children provide emergency aid in war zones and natural disaster areas to cut child mortality rates.
Deaths Among Migrant Children
The UN Migration Agency estimates the number of child deaths since 2014 to be 1’200, although many believe that the real number to be considerably higher, seeing as 12.5 per cent of migrants are aged below 18. Fleeing from war zones like Syria or Yemen, children face considerable risks on their way.
The Most Dangerous Countries for Children
An article published in the New York Times in December 2017 reveals the most dangerous countries for children:
Afghanistan: According to Unicef, the use of “indiscriminate improvised explosive devices” is seen as the major cause of child deaths in war-torn Afghanistan. Children are caught in the crossfire. During the first month of 2017, an estimated 700 children were killed.
Uganda: Troops fighting against the Lord’s Resistance Army have been accused of subjecting young girls to sexual exploitation and rape.
Central African Republic: Unicef has reported that 150’000 people were forced to flee their homes, with children becoming victims of abduction or rape. Some children are also forcefully recruited by armed groups.
Congo: An estimated 850’000 children have been forced from their homes, Unicef reports.
Nigeria and Cameron: 135 children were used as suicide bombers by Boko Haram.
Iraq: According to the New York Times, children are being used as human shields by ISIS.
Syria: Unicef has reported that 2017 was the deadliest year for children in Syria. Over 900 lost their lives, while survivors witness horrendous violence and suffer unspeakable trauma.
Rohingya Kids: 60 per cent of Rohingya refugees are believed to be children, many of them unaccompanied. Witnesses describe how babies were snatched from mothers and many children forced to flee on their own to escape violence.
South Sudan: According to Unicef, 19’000 children were recruited as child soldiers, with 2’300 losing their lives.
Somalia: Children are forced to join armed groups.
Yemen: Unicef figures reveal that an estimated 5’000 children were killed or injured, while 11 million are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Desperate families often choose to sell children into marriage or to serve as child soldiers.
Ukraine: After four years of intense conflict, 220’000 children are at risk from explosives and mines.
Middle East: According to Aljazeera, over 350 children are in Israeli prisons, where many believe they suffer maltreatment. This year, Israeli forces have already arrested 353 while placing more than 100 under house arrest.
Children At Risk All Across the Globe
Apart from the stark realities of child mortality, children face risks in all societies across the globe. Child abuse, violence against children, child marriage, family separation, child abduction, and child poverty are only some of the dangers kids are exposed to. Every child has the right to grow up in safety and it is our responsibility to uphold the rights of children around the world.
Occasionally, we ought to take a few minutes and try to imagine what the plight of refugees is like. It is easy to be anti-immigration if you choose not to empathise. But after all, we are all members of the human race. Take a look at this Aljazeera clip and put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a while. This is what life in a refugee camp is like.
Every once in a while, we need to empathize with those who don’t enjoy the everyday freedoms we take for granted. Life in a refugee camp is anything but comfortable, so we shouldn’t be surprised when brave individuals come to our shores seeking a better life.