…And when I think I may be deprived while I'm in Uz, I remember those I strive to help, and they anchor me and point the way…
People in need (from the UN Consolidated Appeals Process)
More than 45 million people are struggling to survive the painful consequences of conflicts and natural disasters. They are victims and survivors, sometimes of several crises at once: war, drought, poverty, and HIV/AIDS.
As this Appeal shows, these people live amidst 21 crises across the world, the majority of them in Africa. At the same time, this Appeal calls attention to the plight of millions more people in need in other crises, such as Afghanistan and Colombia.
Behind the statistics are ordinary people, each with their lives, hopes and dreams. They are people living in extraordinary situations. Many have been displaced from their homes, had their lives severely disrupted, and lost their livelihoods and belongings.
It may be hard to imagine. There's a war; your home is destroyed, schools and hospitals stop working, gas and electricity go out. Safety and security are a hope, not a reality.
Savings and possessions disappear. People need food, and much more, to survive.
In such situations, the youngest, oldest, and weakest people, who often depend most on community support, are the worst affected.
Compassion may be a natural reaction, but people struggling to survive against overwhelming odds rarely want our pity. Instead they need our practical support to help them to respond, recover and get their normal lives back.
Pitiful images of helpless victims, therefore, do a disservice to people's efforts to survive. They mask the reality that most people do not wait passively for aid, but struggle hard to cope, drawing on all their capacities, resources, and courage.
Or, here are some highlights...
Citizens of many nations share a basic humanitarian ethic that prompts them to help people caught in the world's humanitarian crises. We have seen time and again how ordinary citizens give generously when they see people in dire need on TV.
This should not be surprising. That we should treat others as we would like them to treat us is a central tenet in many religious and moral codes. Those who can should help those in need. Further, humanitarians regret that, in a world of plenty, people in the world's crises live in fear and die without food and medicines.
Whether global citizens' urge to help others in need is a fundamental human instinct or a global extension of community spirit, it is surely a sign that the voices of millions of affected people will be heard.
For reasons in addition to ethics, governments are increasingly willing to invest in human security worldwide. The security of people living in donor nations today is linked to the safety and well-being of people elsewhere.
Some donors have made human security a cornerstone of their foreign and development policies. Canada, for one, sees humanitarian aid as a means of enhancing the security of Canadians, as well as a moral obligation. "Events in recent years have reconfirmed that, in an increasingly interdependent world, the safety and security of Canadians at home are inextricably linked to the safety of those living beyond our borders," said Bill Graham, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2002.
This reflects a shift in global security thinking. On 1 May 2003, the Commission on Human Security proposed a new people-centred security framework to the United Nations, designed to shield people from "critical and pervasive threats" and to "empower" them.
Many humanitarians recognize the complex connections among crises, widespread suffering, underdevelopment, forced migration and global security. They see, for example, how children in conflict zones who are victims of violence themselves may be drawn into perpetuating violence and insecurity.
Donors who help people in need hold that their assistance may help to prevent refugee flows to their country. Indeed, many donors perceive a link between crises in other countries, forced migration, and national security.