This is the first Ebola crisis in an active conflict zone – with dire consequences for efforts to eradicate the disease. It is a humanitarian emergency, not just a public health emergency, and needs to be treated as such. Failure to fully understand this will lead to a failure to control the disease. Without a strategic reset the problem will continue to get worse. My thoughts on how to improve the situation:
We’re living in a dangerous new era – the Age of Impunity. This isn’t just about the war crimes committed in places like Hodeidah or Aleppo, it’s also about the democratic recession happening in Washington, Budapest, and Warsaw. As EJ Dionne says here, “When anything goes, no one is safe.”
With more than 70 million people now displaced by conflict and persecution, the world is failing displaced people – especially women and girls. Governments, businesses, civil society and individuals around the world need to dramatically scale up effective, long-term support to help refugees survive and rebuild their lives. That means fit-for-purpose financing, more efficient treatment of malnutrition and health issues, more investment in early childhood education, and a recommitment to resettlement for refugees and asylum-seekers.
In fragile states around the world, women and girls suffer a double disadvantage – because of where they live and because of their gender. To reverse this double disadvantage, we must try to create a double dividend: tackle the symptoms of disadvantage but also address the power structures that cause them. That's why IRC is adopting a feminist approach to humanitarian aid, as I explain in my recent op-ed.
Today’s record-setting figures are a wake-up call to the human cost of war, economic misery and climate stress – representing a clear international failure to tackle the defining political and humanitarian crisis of our time. As the numbers of displaced grow, we are seeing a tragic retreat from diplomacy that should be addressing the root causes of conflict and displacement, whether in Libya or Yemen, Venezuela or Syria.
The Ebola crisis that has already infected more than 2,000 people in eastern Congo has now spread across the border into neighboring Uganda. The spread of the disease in North Kivu and Ituri, and now across the border, shows that the international response is in need of a reset, with a focus on building greater trust with the local communities affected by the crisis.
Women are being left behind by the SDGs, and women in crisis are being completely forgotten. It isn’t surprising, but no less maddening that fragile states are consistently performing the worst in tackling gender based violence, ensuring access to proper women’s healthcare, and protecting the civil rights of women. But we can’t just pretend that these unequal outcomes between women and men are just accidental by-products of bad luck – we need take far more seriously the inequalities of power that
Women are being left behind by the SDGs, and women in crisis are being completely forgotten. It isn’t surprising, but no less maddening that fragile states are consistently performing the worst in tackling gender based violence, ensuring access to proper women’s healthcare, and protecting the civil rights of women. But we can’t just pretend that these unequal outcomes between women and men are just accidental by-products of bad luck – we need take far more seriously the inequalities of power that drive violence, injustice, and inequality in communities around the world.
It should be a source of shame that static medical facilities are now deemed too risky as attacks against hospitals become the rule rather than the exception. From Dara’a, Syria where six patients and one doctor were killed by a government airstrike to an IRC-supported hospital to Butembo, DRC where an IRC-supported hospital responding to the Ebola crisis was attacked by an armed gunman, we need to establish accountability for the perpetrators of these attacks on humanitarian aid.
I’m just back from Congo and it is clear that the Ebola outbreak is getting worse, not better, despite a proven vaccine and treatment. We need to reset the response now before the outbreak spreads to other parts of the country. First and foremost we need better community engagement, with more trust - not more weapons - to keep both health workers and community members safe from the outbreak, and the violence that is disrupting the response.
Last year the US admitted just 62 Syrian refugees, an appalling abdication of America’s longstanding history of refuge for the most vulnerable people on the planet. With resettlement options shrinking, Syria still dangerous and insecure, and host countries like Jordan and Lebanon not receiving the international support they need, the 5 million Syrian refugees around the world are stuck in limbo, waiting on political leaders to have the head and the heart to bring about long-term solutions to this crisis.
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