BLACK LIVES SHOULD MATTER IN POOR COUNTRIES TOO

PART I

THE UNPRECEDENTED GLOBAL FAMINE BEING IGNORED BY WORLD LEADERS AND THE MEDIA

NOTE: The subject matter in this article may be (scratch that) should be disturbing. It is quasi-academic in style, at least in terms of the degree of documented source material. This makes for dense reading, but is necessary given the importance of the material. 

Even as early as last fall, those working with food aid programs in various Church and International organizations were seeing an alignment of circumstances they were saying would give rise to a severe global famine in 2020 if preemptive plans and actions weren’t begun immediately. Steps were being taken to get ahead of the looming global threat…then the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency with dire predictions of untold suffering and death and ordered the world to shut down.

The focus shifted from the looming famine to hand-washing techniques, and bazaar public disputes between politicians and regulators and front-line doctors about the use of therapeutic treatments such as hydroxychloriquine, or the science behind wearing face masks [hundreds of articles and interviews].

Meanwhile, a handful of international organizations and church leaders have been desperately trying to pierce this wall of ignorance and get the world’s attention.

The sad reality is that like a huge elephant in a relatively small room, since the call “all hands on deck” went out for an exclusive focus on COVID-19 and the rush to produce vaccines to start inoculating 7 billion people on a regular basis for yet another disease, the elephant in the room growing ever larger is now regarded as a convenient wall blocking the truth that it’s an elephant.

Food_Assistance_Peak_Needs_April2020chop

The first part of this article offers a chronological overview of some of the attempts by Church leaders and international organizations to put this growing global humanitarian crisis on the world agenda, with little success.  As you read, ask yourself why you haven’t been hearing more about this in the news, given the seriousness and urgency of the situation.

You have no doubt heard bits and pieces of the news, for example that there were lots of locusts flying around in a few places on the other side of the world a while back. They’re still flying and a second even more serious wave of locusts is expected soon, during planting season.

Finally, ask yourself why we haven’t been hearing daily updates about this global situation from our Prime Minister? What happened to Canada the humanitarian leader of the world calling other G20 countries into action?  Why not at least a mention during briefings about COVID-19 and the latest opinions about whether children going to school should cover their little faces all day, just part of the day, on the school bus, etc.

April 11, 2020: Johns Hopkins Predicts Millions of Deaths from Lockdown 

On April 11, 2020, researchers at Johns Hopkins University published the results of a study measuring the likely socio-economic impacts of the lockdown protocols and strategies on 118 countries, many of which were forced to impose lockdowns  by the World Bank on condition of receiving billions in desperately-needed financial loans.  The study concluded that a worse-case scenario could see 1.2 million deaths in the subsequent six months (April – October):

“More than one million children under five and 60,000 more mothers could die in the next six months alone as a result of disruptions to health services caused by the pandemic in low and middle income countries, according to a new study.” [See “More than one million more women and children globally could die as pandemic diverts health services,”  April 23, 2020].

April 27, 2020: Canadian Church Leaders Appeal to Trudeau to Address Crisis

Church Leaders

From Left to Right: Bishop Douglas Crosby, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops; Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and PEI Islander, the Rev. Douglas Rollwage, moderator of the 2017 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

The Leaders of three of Canada’s main Churches [Roman Catholic; Anglican and Presbyterian] wrote a joint letter to the PM dated April 27, 2020 calling on the Government to take action and rally support for the crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. As reported in :

“The Bishops have affirmed that many of the atrocities are being committed by both government and opposition forces. The Bishops also point to the dreadful and manmade famine being inflicted on the country. An article from the Globe and Mail on 26 March 2017 reported on this tragedy as well, noting that 100,000 people in South Sudan are currently in famine conditions and one million more on the brink, with 5.5 million South Sudanese being at risk of famine by July 2017. With such unthinkable suffering, it is no wonder that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that South Sudan is now experiencing the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world, with 1.6 million displaced people out of a population of 11 million, and an average of 2,800 people fleeing the country each day.”

May 13, 2020: UNICEF Calls for the Lifting of Lockdowns on Poor Nations

The Johns Hopkin’s report and data was then used in an outreach campaign by UNICEF.  “UNICEF warns lockdown could kill more than Covid-19 as model predicts 1.2 million child deaths,” was published in the U.K. Telegraph on May 13, 2020, wherein we read:

“In an exclusive interview Dr Stefan Peterson, Chief of Health at UNICEF, cautioned that the blanket lockdowns imposed in many low and middle income are not an effective way to control Covid-19 and could have deadly Repercussions“Indiscriminate lockdown measures do not have an optimal effect on the virus,” he told The Telegraph. “If you’re asking families to stay at home in one room in a slum, without food or water, that won’t limit virus transmission. “I’m concerned that lockdown measures have been copied between countries for lack of knowing what to do, rarely with any contextualisation for the local situation,” he said.“One size fits no one. The objective is to slow the virus, not to lockdown people. We need to lift our eyes and look at the total picture of public health.”

The mainstream media’s reports of UNICEF’s call for action in early May – based on Johns Hopkin’s research – failed to mention that the 1.2 million deaths that had been forecast were deaths expected WITHIN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS.  Nonetheless, news of the dire situation with 1.2 million preventable deaths should have been sufficient to elicit an immediate, well-coordinated humanitarian effort at the international level regardless of what period of time those deaths would occur. It wasn’t.

According to an August 22, 2020 analysis published in The Lancet, 80 per cent of those children would be from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Over half would be from South Asia alone. From that study:

“It’s been seven months since the first COVID-19 cases were reported and it is increasingly clear that the repercussions of the pandemic are causing more harm to children than the disease itself,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Household poverty and food insecurity rates have increased. Essential nutrition services and supply chains have been disrupted. Food prices have soared. As a result, the quality of children’s diets has gone down and malnutrition rates will go up.”

July 9, 2020: An Update on the Lockdown Catastrophe From Oxfam 

A report issued by Oxfam published July 9, 2020 – two months after the first UNICEF attempt to warn the world about the growing global famine presented predictions of millions of unnecessary and presentable deaths far more dire than UNICEF.  Those projections were based on a number of compounding factors, including (1) catastrophic loss of crops from locust infestations not seen in decades in Africa, the Middle East, India and other countries. Oxfam highlighted how the Global lockdown strategy is worsening the situation daily.

The following statement exposes the hypocrisy of global corporations supporting indiscriminate lockdowns while amassing enormous wealth from : (1) wealth transfers of billions to private corporations from national governments (people) in pre-purchase vaccine deals; and (3) the biggest transfer of wealth to big pharma and their shareholders in an unprecedented boom on the stock market:

Oxfam’s Interim Executive Director Chema Vera said: “COVID-19 is the last straw for millions of people already struggling with the impacts of conflict, climate change, inequality and a broken food system that has impoverished millions of food producers and workers. Meanwhile, those at the top are continuing to make a profit: eight of the biggest food and drink companies paid out over $18 billion to shareholders since January even as the pandemic was spreading across the globe ―ten times more than the UN says is needed to stop people going hungry.”  

July 27, 2020: UNICEF’S Second Attempt to Alert the World and End Lockdowns

UNICEF issued a July 27, 2020 update on the still-escalating global famine following yet another study, this one a study published in the Lancet Medical Journal titled: ”

“An additional 6.7 million children under the age of five could suffer from wasting – and therefore become dangerously undernourished – in 2020 as a result of the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF warned today.” 

Despite briefly reminding the world that we are facing a global moral, political and humanitarian challenge that could result in a disastrous outcome for the world’s poor, the crisis continues to worsen as lockdowns are maintained, and the world remains largely silent about this looming tragedy and global leader’s moral failure to speak up and act, including by our own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

There has been nothing said publicly by Prime Minister Trudeau since May of any substance; but you can be sure that he is most certainly being briefed on the rapidly worsening state of the world’s poorest peoples – almost all of who are people of colour, the majority of which are women and children.  Black lives should matter in poor countries too Mr. Prime Minister!

PART II

To See Things in the Proper Light

We First Need to Open Our Eyes

By August 28, 2020, the COVID-19 virus had infected over 24.4 million people worldwide.  The number of deaths had totalled more than 831,000, that’s 3.4% of the total 24.4 million infected who died; 0.01 of the world’s population.

A group of researchers undertook similar calculations for the seasonal flu – averaged over a number of years – and published the results in the Journal of Global Health:

“We estimated an average of 389 000 (uncertainty range 294 000-518 000) respiratory deaths were associated with influenza globally each year during the study period, corresponding to ~ 2% of all annual respiratory deaths. Of these, 67% were among people 65 years and older.” [See: “Global mortality associated with seasonal influenza epidemics: New burden estimates and predictors from the GLaMOR Project,”October 2019 Journal of Global Health].

A chart I put together and included in a previous blog article tells a similar story for our small province of PEI, with roughly 160,000 people:

Nw Graphic for Post

After posting this information, there were dozens of quite nasty comments on my Facebook Page sharing this article. I was called a few unsavoury things I’ll not get into here. The kinder critics simply dismissed me as a misguided lunatic (but dangerous nonetheless), making hay on the fact that I’m not a medical doctor, which itself was enough to declare the data in the chart I provided as meaningless. Why exactly wasn’t explained.

To me, the math is straightforward, as are the statistical probabilities guiding what should be reasonable predictions on what we are likely to expect in the future.

Assuming that the virus doesn’t mutate into a more severe strain, why would we see anything different than what we’ve seen in the 44 people who contracted the virus during the past 6 months? Given the protocol in place during this time, not only were none of these 44 people “hospitalized” – they stayed home and didn’t even go to the hospital to see a doctor.

Some of the other comments criticizing my post suggested that the demographic detail would make all the difference, and that the 44 people who contracted the virus were likely all young and healthy people.  If they had been above the age where death is far more likely to occur with COVID-19, there would have been hospitalizations and deaths.

I considered that before publishing that article and reviewed the demographic data, including the ages and sex of the 44 people infected with COVID-19.

Summary of PEI cases

We see from the data that 22% of the 44 people contracting the virus in PEI were 60+ yrs of age, with one person over 80. Yet we haven’t had a single hospitalization or death in PEI. Have we had any deaths from the “lockdown strategy”?  Probably. But no one’s asking about that either.

Did anyone die from want of surgery, or cancer treatment from cancelled and postponed procedures? Is anyone keeping track of this data? What about suicides from the owners of collapsed businesses, or from the shattered dreams of younger people now unable to start businesses? Is anyone asking for this information?

I’ve yet to hear a question from the media on any of these important matters here in PEI, despite  hundreds of COVID-19 briefings, updates, and open-ended Q & A’s with Dr. Heather Morrison, our Chief Medical Officer.

What can Canada expect to see in coming days with the COVID-19 crisis? Will it be as dire of news as what is happening in Africa and Asia? News that’s not being reported? Or will hand-washing and insightful commentaries on wearing masks, or meaningless discussions ad naseum take place about what changes in the number of positive tests signify in different parts of Canada, while ignoring the obvious – there are fewer deaths now than the flue. Yet you’d think we were in a ‘five-alarm’ fire emergency still with our media the way it dominates nightly.

Despite all that time and talking, things such as the radically-declining numbers of deaths; multiple new and proven treatments now available to further lesson deaths in vulnerable populations; the global protection in people under 20 yrs of age and the need to shift focus on simply protecting the vulnerable (elderly and immune-compromised).

All of that is being ignored as meaningless mumbo-jumbo continues to take precedence at our national public broadcaster (CBC) with the same old tired talking head over real news that would inform Canadians what’s the real crisis facing the world is – a tsunami of human suffering shaping up to be the largest PREVENTABLE global famine in history the egotistical Global Billionaires smugly ignored while pursing a god-less dream of securing even more global wealth, power and control over world affairs and the future of our planet.

Look at the gray area in the following official Epidemiological Update I downloaded from the Federal Government’s website with data for August 29, 2020 based on illness onset ‘lag times’ –  apparently a good predictor:Lag time cases

Billions to BigPharma and Food Giants While Millions Starve

It’s hard to know what to say in the face of such evil. Such deception. Such greed and corruption where a relatively small number of people given the world’s 7 billion people get some much control over everyone else that they can proceed with their plans to remake the planet with bio-engineering and nanotechnology in pursuit of a vision for the world’s future we get no say about.  A future being called the 4th Industrial Revolution integrating powerful new technologies including High speed data transmission (5G); Artificial Intelligence; Quantum computing; DNA gene-editing; and mRNA gene editing.

There’s no “argument for” and “argument against” what’s happening – there’s only moral choices about either (1) siding with the poor in truth and justice, or (2) ignoring the poor and allowing untold preventable deaths as we join the first-world global gang defining the “new normal” which will be sure to include a new moral foundation akin to barbarism.

Powerful billionaires are attracting wealthy investors in droves, securing new markets, rapidly introducing new technologies and ‘new-age’ products, as they continue to solicit (and get) more and more financial support from governments around the world to promote the technological transformations happening, including global vaccination campaigns.

Jeff Bezos went from being a trillionaire to being a 2-trillionaire in the six months since the WHO declared a global health emergency.

No, nothing is going to easily distract those engaged in a fierce competitive race frantically positioning to come out of the lockdown and the present financial feeding frenzy at the front line of a new world order of international commerce and trade with cutting-edge next generation (scratch that) next “era” technological power capable of reshaping the world and ushering in Humans 2.0.

Nothing is going to be allowed to take precedence over this undemocratic global process and agenda, apparently not even the genocidal ramifications of an irrational and immoral imposition of conditions compelling the governments of poor nations to comply with a top-down lockdown strategy.

These poor nations are being held hostage as “what” they have to do to get financial help goes far beyond imposed lockdowns, but demands rescinding national laws not in accordance with the WHO’s liberal agenda. Measures such as declaring abortions to be ‘essential services” and providing priority health service for abortions ahead of  life-saving measures such as surgeries or chemotherapy).  Such dictatorial acts are morally repugnant for an organization of countries that – for the most part – call themselves democratic.

It was that non-elected and dictatorial approach at the WHO that was the final straw for the US to withdraw funding from the WHO, but not before trying to get the WHO to amend those conditions attached to funding by the World Bank.

In fact, several attempts were made. In a May 18, 2020 letter to UN Secretary General, an appeal was made for the UN to stop imposing policy conditions attached to funds that ignored the sovereign national rights and laws of countries, some of which continue to regard abortion not only as a medical procedure that is not medically necessary, but illegal. As stated in that May 19, 2020 letter:

“Therefore, the UN should not use this crisis as an opportunity to advance access to abortion as an “essential service.” Unfortunately, the Global HRP does just this, by cynically placing the provision of “sexual and reproductive health services” on the same level of importance as food-insecurity, essential health care, malnutrition, shelter, and sanitation. Most egregious is that the Global HRP calls for the widespread distribution of abortion-inducing drugs and abortion supplies, and for the promotion of abortion in local country settings.”

To single out a recent focus on one country which is being ravished by war, cholera and the COVID-19 lock down, Yemen, the alarm about a lack of focus and funding is representative of many other countries:

“…this year’s international donor funding falls more than $1-billion short of what is needed to meet civilian needs. Every day without a diplomatic solution is one step closer to total collapse as humanitarian funding dries up. In some of the bleakest assessments yet, a senior United Nations official said the lack of funds had led to the closure of primary health care facilities for 1.8 million people and reduced food aid for 8 million Yemenis at a moment when ‘famine is again stalking the country’.” [See: “A Living Nightmare: Defeating the Locust Plague of 2020,”].

In “War, pestilence, famine and death in Yemen: How COVID-19 has made a humanitarian crisis worse,” published in the Globe and Mail just a couple of weeks ago (August 6, 2020) we read:

“Humanitarian needs are urgent, amplified by the late, but aggressive arrival of COVID-19, and yet this year’s international donor funding falls more than $1-billion short of what is needed to meet civilian needs. Every day without a diplomatic solution is one step closer to total collapse as humanitarian funding dries up. In some of the bleakest assessments yet, a senior United Nations official said the lack of funds had led to the closure of primary health care facilities for 1.8 million people and reduced food aid for 8 million Yemenis at a moment when “famine is again stalking the country.”

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) cautions that if the current trajectory continues, the locust upsurge is expected to threaten the livelihoods of 10% of the world’s population [700,000,000 people].

locustWithout broad-scale action to control the locusts, damages and losses could reach US$8.5 billion by the end of 2020, leading to widespread famine, disease and increased poverty.  In an August 11, 2020 article titled, “Without quick action, Covid-19 will create a global hunger crisis by the end of 2020,” the following disturbing information is provided:

“While the greatest concentration of need is in Africa, according to the Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Security Hotspots, compiled by the W.F.P. and the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia also face dangerous levels of food insecurity. “Three months ago at the U.N. Security Council, I told world leaders that we ran the risk of a famine of biblical proportions,” said David Beasley, W.F.P.’s executive director, speaking to the press on July 17. “Our latest data tell us that since then, millions of the world’s very poorest families have been forced even closer to the abyss. Livelihoods are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate, and now their lives are in imminent danger from starvation.”

Those doing the response planning for COVID-19 live in wealthy countries where highly sophisticated industrialized supply chains have been maintained. As an insightful article on the “Rich – Poor” differences in the nature of the supply chains for food highlights the deadly impact of indiscriminate lockdown strategy:

“Capital-intensive food value chains that are highly mechanized (predominant in rich countries for staple crops such as wheat, maize and soybeans) have continued functioning with few disruptions. In contrast, food production in poor countries tends to be more labor-intensive; and production of many non-staples, such as fruits and vegetables, worldwide requires workers be in close proximity. These food value chains have shown more supply disruptions owing to the risk of disease transmission, labor shortages, and disruptions in transportation and logistics.

Globally, the risk of starvation in some camps because of a lack of access to aid constitutes a bigger threat than the virus itself, according Iain Byrne, Head of Amnesty’s Refugees and Migrants Rights team Amnesty International.  As he states in the following article:Global: Ignored by COVID-19 responses, refugees face starvation”:

“Governments keep saying we are all in this together. This means nothing unless they step up to protect the millions of people worldwide who are experiencing this pandemic far from their homes and loved ones,” said Iain Byrne. “Any government which allows refugees to die of starvation or thirst during lockdown has failed dismally at tackling this crisis.”

These calls from Church leaders, UNICEF, Oxfam, the Food and Agricultural Division of the United Nations, and Amnesty International should be resulting in a wake-up call to the world. It’s not. Governments and media alike keep hitting the snooze button on anything but COVID-19.

It’s time to get up and do something before things worsen further. The first thing must be to remove the coercive conditions forcing poor nations to impose lockdowns on their own people, the second is to launch an immediate international humanitarian aid campaign.

The United Nations seemingly challenged it’s sister arm of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, when it issued a similar warning concerning the need to life lock down measures on poor countries. That plea was made as far back as April, 2020, with persuasive and morally-compelling arguments that those indiscriminate lockdowns would compromise food security, rapidly exacerbate famine, and needlessly cause millions of deaths:

“While the World Health Organization warns that stringent guidelines need to stay in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, fellow United Nations agency World Food Program (WFP) believes that it will lead to an uptick in global poverty and starvation, and the response to the virus itself may end up killing more people by the end of 2020….We can expect more global deaths due to secondary impacts of COVID-19 than the virus itself — the World Food Program currently estimates that 265 million will be on the brink of starvation by the end of the year.” 

I couldn’t help but think of David Morrison after reading this from Amnesty International. David died in 2017. He taught Religious Studies at UPEI and was a long-time friend and colleague of mine. He and I worked together to found the first-ever chapter of Amnesty international at UPEI when I was there in the late 70s getting my Bachelor of Arts degree.

Some years later – after I got my Masters Degree at the University of Windsor –  David went on Sabbatical for a year and I was contracted to fill his vacant teaching position for that year.  David left me his office to use and a pile of books he said I should definitely read – mostly about international human rights and justice issues. I did.

In the course of doing the research for this article, I came across a really touching memorial  from the people at WUSC (World University Students Oversees) – which David was also heavily involved with, as he was with many international organizations and issues impacting the world’s most vulnerable and poor, especially refugees. Here’s a bit from that memorial:

“David had a great commitment to human rights and development. This was evident through his dedicated involvement with WUSC, Rotary International, the YMCA, the Canadian Human Rights Foundation, and Amnesty International. His legacy also lives on at Trent University through the David Morrison Award, which is presented to a graduating student who demonstrates academic and social involvement at Trent, involvement with Trent International, and a commitment to Internationalization.”

I couldn’t help but wonder what a conversation over dinner between David and his daughter Heather – currently our chief medical officer  – would sound like if he was still alive, especially given how at least some first-world nations are beginning to ‘lift’ some of the harsher restrictions for their citizens, but are maintaining full lockdown protocols on refugees and displaced persons, of which the world currently has 26.0 million, the highest ever seen. In addition, there are 45.7 million internally-displaced people in the world.

As early as May, 2020, it was being reported that the lockdowns were already causing more deaths in camps than the virus:

“In many camps death by starvation is now reported to be a bigger threat than the virus itself. This is an appalling abdication of the collective responsibility to protect refugees and migrants, and we are urging states to take immediate action to prevent this becoming a human rights catastrophe.” [See: “Global: Ignored by COVID-19 responses, refugees face starvation,Amnesty International, May 13, 2020].

Greece recently lifted some restrictions while at the same time extending lockdown. From the following June 2, 2020 article “Greece Extends Lockdown on More than 120,000 Migrants, Refugees”:

“ATHENS – Even though Greece is slowly but steadily lifting strict COVID-19 restrictions across the country, it is keeping more than 120,000 asylum seekers in lockdown, crammed in overcrowded camps to contain the spread the coronavirus. The virus has killed 190 people in this relatively infection-free country.”

David would be livid.

 

 

 

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