THIS year’s World Humanitarian Day was celebrated on Sunday, August 19, 2018. Though the occasion has come and gone, its message and significance, both for mankind as a whole and Nigeria as a concerned flashpoint entity, cannot be easily swept aside.
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, captured the essence of this year’s anniversary as follows: “Around the world, conflict is forcing record numbers of people from their homes, with over 65 million people now displaced. Children are recruited by armed groups and used to fight. Women are abused and humiliated. As humanitarian workers deliver aid and medical workers provide for those in need they are all too often targeted or treated as threats”.
It was for the purpose of raising awareness for the greater protection of unarmed civilians, vulnerable groups and care providers in conflict zones that the UN launched the #NotATarget campaign.
Nigeria is one of the countries that should attach special significance to the #NotATarget campaign. The Boko Haram conflict in the North East alone accounts for Africa’s largest displaced persons population which was put at 3.3 million by the end of 2015. Most of them live in Internally-Displaced Persons, IDP, camps while a sizeable number squatted with relations. The upsurge in attacks by bandits and land-grabbing armed herdsmen who have ravaged the North-Central and North-West has compounded the human suffering.
Apart from insurgency and banditry-related conflicts, climate change has also added to the problem, with a large number of people forced to flee from desertification and rainy season flooding along riverine areas.
All these conflicts and natural disasters have thus turned millions of Nigerians who should be fending for themselves into displaced, destitute persons. Millions of children have become orphaned, and many of them have been detached from their families and communities. It has become near impossible for them to hope for decent livelihood such as access to food, healthcare, education and healthy family ties.
We call on all the political parties and politicians to pause for a moment and recognise the increasing humanitarian burdens our society has been accumulating as a result of the above-mentioned factors. These problems are worse in developing countries such as ours because of backward politics that is not inclusive enough. Conflicts drain our scarce resources.
We need leadership emphasis that unites the people and caters for the needs of the weak and vulnerable members of society. It requires visionary and sacrificial leadership to overcome causes of conflicts. The upcoming electioneering activities provide an opportunity for us to search for leaders who will take all Nigerians on board. Together, we will be able to arrest factors that breed conflicts among us.
Thus, we can overcome human suffering and create a better future.