CCSD - Issues

Community Centric Sustainable Development

Friday, January 21, 2005

Liberia - Humanitarian Crisis

Crisis - Why did we not doing something to preempt crisis

IS: URGENT ACTION: Liberians Dying, Peacekeepers Needed
2003-08-02 03:03

Dear David Moore and Shannon Scribner,

Thank you for the Oxfam message. But why did you wait until today to send it.

By way of introduction let me say that I admire the Oxfam community and the work they have done over the years to help in crisis conditions. But in my view Oxfam now has a responsibility that goes far beyond what it is doing. I am concerned that Oxfam is engaged in crisis reponse rather than in addressing the systemic problems that create crisis, and in fact to the extent that it has started to look at development from a systemic perspective, it is getting it wrong.

It has been apparent for weeks, or is it months, or even years that there is a dramatic crisis in progress in Liberia, and the neighboring countries. So what now provokes the need for urgent action NOW rather than weeks or months or years ago. The whole framework for getting response from leadership in the NORTH just plain does not work. It has not worked for years, but nobody really seems to be bothered.Too many organizations feel that writing a letter is enough. Or faith based groups do some praying. But the sort of action that hurts or might hurt just does not get done. Not enough people are getting into harms way in order to stand up for what is right and needs to be done.

We all talk about how wrong it was for the world to ignore the emerging crisis of the holocaust in Nazi Germany, but we are doing more or less the same thing as we ignore the MANY emerging crises around the present day SOUTH, and indeed among the economically disadvantaged in the NORTH.

The systems we have at the moment do not hold people accountable for what they do not do.

Many Christians probably pray something along these lines when they go to Church: "Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. etc. etc"

I get the impression we leave an awful lot undone. The behavior of leadership is a disgrace. But the NORTH leadership is our leadership. And we have tolerated rotten leadership of development for two or three decades. As a result all sorts of blameless people are dying and will continue to die.

Again, thank you for your message. But please think about the systemic problem that have caused this crisis, and the role we all play in allowing these systemic problems to continue year after year after year.

I am copying this message to the Information Society list, because I think that one of the big issues is the systemic failure to get important information communicated in a way that is meaningful to the people who elect government leadership in the countries of the NORTH. This is meant to be a role of the media, but media is now more about entertainment and commercial profit than it is about information and communication ........ but it is information and communication that makes for a good democracy and not "media" as it presently operates.

Guns and landmines and soldiers and oil and diamonds and gold and war and refugees and famine and illness are the outcome of years of development failure. There is plenty of blame to go around. But what about systemic solutions for tomorrow? There are plenty of good people. good ideas, amazing technology, but at the end of the day the development establishment cannot pull it all together.

This needs to be fixed.


Peter Burgess
In a message dated 8/1/2003 6:09:47 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:>
Subj:URGENT ACTION: Liberians Dying, Peacekeepers Needed >
Date:8/1/2003 6:09:47 PM Eastern Daylight Time>>>>

Dear Peter,

As you may know, the African country of Liberia is in> the midst of a horrific civil war. During renewed fighting,> over a thousand people have been killed. Hundreds of thousands> have been displaced. Civilians are running out of food> and many lack clean water. Diseases such as cholera could> kill thousands. > > We need your help to try to stop the violence in Liberia!

Click on the link below to ask President Bush to immediately> deploy US peacekeeping troops to Liberia. > > > President Bush has promised US support and has stationed three ships off the coast of Liberia. But he has not made the concrete commitments necessary to bring peace to Liberia. Peacekeeping troops from other West African countries are slated to enter the country soon. US troops should join them on the ground.

Oxfam staff and other aid workers are trapped in homes> and offices, unable to help those in desperate need. Meanwhile, 50,000 people have fled to a soccer stadium in Monrovia. Each week, 350 people die from cholera.

Please take a minute right now to send an email to President> Bush. Just click on the link below. > >

And please tell your friends and family about this urgent humanitarian crisis.

Thank you for your help,

David Moore, Internet Campaign Organizer
Shannon Scribner, Acting Policy Advisor for Humanitarian Response

Peter Burgess
ATCnet in New York
Tel: 212 772 6918


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