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New responses to global humanitarian crises

  • 29 June 2018


Last year was touted as experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945, with 20 million people in just four countries confronting starvation. This year, the British International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, warned would be worse.

A quick recap of the situation right now. South Sudan has returned to civil war at the same time as a famine, a left-right punch that has displaced about four million people. In Myanmar, the government's crackdown on Muslim Rohingya has led to an exodus of nearly 700,000 people in seven months.

Neither compare to the 11 million Syrians who have fled their homes or the 13 million in need of food and protection in Congo. If there was such a thing as a ranking of suffering, Yemen would be near the top, with 8.4 million people on the verge of starvation including 400,000 children who have severe acute malnutrition. Central African Republic, north-east Nigeria and Mali are just a few other places where the struggle for survival is ever present.

Of the over 30 million who were displaced last year, nearly 12 million fled from war — a figure nearly twice as large as the year before.

There are a lot of arguments for helping people in need. Some say that we should invest money to prevent fragile and failed states becoming breeding grounds for terrorism. The United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis, while Commander of US Central Command, pointedly said, 'If you don't fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.'

Others will say that Australia has an obligation as part of the west to pay reparations for benefiting from centuries of exploitation. A federation of Caribbean countries has formed a group to push for reparations for the ten million who were taken from Africa and transported to the Americas. Lastly, there is the moral argument, for some grounded in faith, for others in the secular version of do onto your neighbour as you would want done unto you. Pope Francis has argued that helping migrants is just as important as protecting unborn babies.

From among these, every Australian should be able to find one reason that motivates them to help people affected by war.


"We need aid workers whose passion for the people they are helping gives them patience for change that can sustain them through the years of struggle."


But one of the problems is that Australians tend to be generous when it comes