19 August 2014

GETTING COUNTED FOR HUMANITY | Guest Post For World Humanitarian Day

"Short, engaging, directed at us all but with focal point on our youths, this write-up for World Humanitarian Day reminds us all of our responsibility to the society and to give whatever we can, no matter how little. And of course, to do that while we still have the time"- Editor's note 

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It is no longer news that the world is faced with myriad of challenges. Every country in the world today is faced with one problem or the other. In the Middle East, terrorism holds sway as thousands of lives are being cut short by the Islamic State (ISIS) group. Russia and Ukraine have been involved in a terrible duel for months now and this has also claimed a lot of lives. Thousands of civilians and military personnel have been sent to the great beyond over irreconcilable differences between two nations.

I do not care about the reasons each country or group has for whatever action they have taken that has resulted in this huge loss of lives and wanton destruction of properties. What I am concerned about is the pain and agony that many families have been made to suffer across the world. My country, Nigeria, has not been spared. For years now, the terrorist group, Boko Haram, has caused the death of thousands and rendered many homeless. And most recently, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has become our greatest fear just as in other countries ailing from it. Since the emergence of EVD, it has claimed over 1,000 lives in West Africa and still counting.

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Indeed, there are growing threats to humanity across the world. Despite being denied access to basic necessities and infrastructures like decent jobs, power, education, shelter and water as a result of government misrule, the ordinary man has also been denied the comfort of sleeping with his two eyes closed. As young people,we owe our generation and most importantly the next generation, the responsibility to end terrorism and all that constitute a threat to the sustainability of human existence. Of course we do not possess the material resources or financial wherewithal to do this but we have got our own power - the people power.

We do not have resources to end poverty and terrorism but we can begin a campaign against it calling on government and other duty bearers to take actions. We do not have a cure for EVD but we can continue to sensitize the public on taking precautionary measures.

Youths own the social media space. Over 60 percent of social media users are youths but what exactly do we use the social media for? It's high time we began to use the social media for social justice! A short post on Facebook, a striking tweet on Twitter can cause someone somewhere to take action; an action that would reverse these ugly trends and set us once again on the right path.

As we commemorate another World Humanitarian Day, I salute the courage and sacrifices of humanitarian volunteers particularly those that have paid the ultimate price in service to humanity. The rest of us can't afford to remain silent, we've got to speak up! We can't afford to keep our arms akimbo, we've got to rise up to the challenge!

If we don't fight to save today, we won't live to see tomorrow.

Ewebiyi Keye James holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Lagos State University. He is a member of the National Coordinating Committee, Activista Nigeria (a youth group that campaigns for an end to poverty and injustice), and a leading member of the Education Rights Campaign (a student and youth group that campaigns for free and quality education for all). He is also a Youth Activist and Social Media Consultant, and works with the International Press Centre (IPC) as Social Media Officer. Keye has been a Red Cross member and volunteer for 14 years.

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