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Monday, July 4, 2016

Humanitarian Disasters

While reading "Operation Wetback Revisited," by Jeet Heer, I was struck by the role that governments have in causing poverty. Heer's article revisits the deportation efforts of Eisenhower in the 1950s, dubbed Operation Wetback. Immigrants and even some citizens who could not produce the appropriate documentation were sent to central Mexico in cargo ships that were compared to slave ships. People died in the heat of summer during a deportation action.

As a student of history, I know there will be times when a government has to go to war to protect its people. But those in power would do well to visit the people they are affecting when they pass laws concerning large demographic groups. A short list of humanitarian disasters will remind us how severe suffering can become for people (from World Vision)

Syrian refugee crisis
Nepal earthquake and government crackdown on protestors
Iraq refugees
Ebola outbreak
South Sudan
Somalia drought
Central American drought
Central African Republic violence

And that's just in 2015.

Many of us remember the relocation of Palestinians when Israel was formed in 1948, the colonization behavior in the twentieth century, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq wars, Nigeria, Cambodia and Vietnam, Korea, Bangladesh, Ruwanda and Bosnia. This list is organized for the most part in order of number of people who died, according to Wikipedia.

World-wide humanitarianism has been a recent development in global history, defined by Didier Fassin as: "a mode of governing that concerns the victims of poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and exile, as well as of disasters, famines, epidemics, and wars—in short, every situation characterized by precariousness." Humanitarianism is the answer to disasters where innocent people lose their homes, belongings, and even family to events caused by natural, political or economic factors. What humanitarian organization do you support, knowing now that factors outside of our own lives can impact us when others flee persecution or starvation?

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