"Famine" is a word that's rarely and cautiously used by the international aid community. It's reserved for describing the very gravest of human suffering. For the U.N. to declare "famine," a great many people must be dying of starvation. Hunger, even lots of it, isn't enough for an official declaration.
Already in the grips of an impending famine, fragile Somalia can't handle much more. But while hunger rates grab news headlines, there is a much quieter killer at work: tuberculosis. TB is one of the top ten causes of death globally, and Somalia is estimated to have one of the highest incidence rates in the world. Meanwhile, here in Canada, it's International Development Week. It's a chance to highlight and celebrate all the good work Canada has done globally. I find this difficult.
The cold truth is this: Europe's winter weather has set in quicker than its leaders were able to make decisions on how to protect these people. For many migrants and refugees, the shores of the Mediterranean aren't just arrival points. They have actually become semi-permanent homes.
More than half of the world's child deaths occur in fragile places like South Sudan and Afghanistan. Yet Canada only commits 25 per cent of its official development budget to these areas. To go the distance to reach the world's most vulnerable people, the figure needs to change.
According to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 45 per cent, malaria death rates are down by 60 per cent and tuberculosis mortality has diminished by 47 per cent. These are exciting achievements, but not nearly as exciting as the possibility of ending those diseases for good.
For Canadian humanitarians working in the field, the security threat has never been more serious. There are more attacks on aid workers than ever before, which is why today, World Humanitarian Day, we highlight the personal sacrifices they make to lift up the world's most vulnerable people.
If only Zika was a two-week stint like the Olympics. Sadly, after Olympians go home and the buzz in the Olympic village dissipates, mosquitos carrying the Zika virus will remain, and those living in their midst have no choice but to stay.