After the Moria fire in September 2020 media coverage suddenly focused on the appalling conditions in the refugee camp. In 2018, the BBC had already dubbed Moria “the worst refugee camp on earth,” and Jean Ziegler had compared it to a concentration camp. The world, however, took no notice. The refugees have now been moved to a new camp where conditions are even worse, but the ever roving media eye has moved on looking for the next sensational story.
If you have the time, computer access, and the language skills to be reading this, you are certainly among the world’s privileged. I imagine you have spent a good portion of the last year reading about and brooding over the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affects you. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. I have done the same.
Our obsession with the coronavirus, however, has pulled attention away from other global problems – poverty, hunger, war – many of which have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Today I want to make you aware of two other global hotspots of pain and suffering that are not getting sufficient media attention.
Malawi is a landlocked African country, sharing borders with Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. It has a population of approximately 20 million which is expected to double by 2038. 43% of Malawians are under 15 and over 66% live in abject poverty. This means they have an income of less than $1.90/day and are subject to severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health services, basic shelter, education, and information.
Unfortunately better known for the film franchise, Madagascar is actually an island of extreme poverty. Located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa, 75% of the population lives in abject poverty. 85% of all homes do not have electricity. One in 16 children dies before the age of five and of the surviving children almost 50% are stunted because of malnutrition. Additionally, because of climate change, Severe droughts are devastating crops exacerbating an already precarious situation.
As blessed and prosperous global citizens, when we read about such injustices, we might wonder what we can do to help people in faraway countries. Opinions vary and I won’t get on my soapbox and offer mine. Getting informed is certainly a start and if I have prompted you to learn more, then I have achieved my objective for today.