Secretary General of the Middle East Council of Churches
The date of the nineteenth of August marks the World Humanitarian Day, according to the calendar of the United Nations, which has chosen Climate Change as the main theme for the year 2021.
Before expanding on the issue of climatic and environmental changes and their impact on the life and future of humanity, we must stop at a few statistically significant data that were included on the United Nations website dedicated to this occasion.
The year 2020 witnessed an attack on 475 aid workers, 108 of whom were killed, 242 wounded and 125 kidnapped. We all know what relief workers suffer from suspicion, mistrust, rejection, persecution, to physical harm in all its forms. Statistics show that these acts of violence have doubled during 2021.
In this turbulent world, unknown soldiers doing what others wouldn’t dare do like aid workers, journalists, medical personnel, mediators between fighting groups, peacekeeping soldiers at front lines and others accomplishing altruistic as well as humanitarian missions.
These people deserve to have a day of honor on which their exploits are written, their bravery is honored, and their fearlessness is praised.
On the other hand, the same website reports that in the world 235 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021. As far as rates are concerned, the rate of people in need of humanitarian assistance reached one person out of every 33 people around the world, which indicates the highest percentage in decades as compared to one in every 45 people that was the average when the website was launched on global humanitarian action for the year 2020. As for the total targeted by the United Nations and its partner organizations, it has reached 160 million people distributed over 56 countries, and they are in dire need of assistance, which will cost the concerned bodies about 35 billion US dollars.
The main theme of the campaign this year revolves around climate change, as stated above and this in an attempt to curb the deterioration that our tired and depleted planet is witnessing out of mercy for the generations not-born-yet. What is the use of leaving to future generations all forms of technological progress and means of luxury, and at the same time, an infested nature that is not suitable for human life?
The website mentioned that the climate emergency is causing generalized chaos which is very difficult to address for those who are leaders in the campaigns. However, if the situation continues at this state, the humanitarian community may reach a stage at which it becomes unable to prevent climate damage.
As for the main problem, which reflects the injustice practiced against human beings, it lies in the fact that the people most affected by this climate emergency are the least people who have caused it or benefited from it. Their homes and livelihoods have been alarmingly damaged.
In the light of this, climate campaigns focus on working to control or slow down climate change, in order to preserve the future of the planet. Therefore, the World Humanitarian Day for the year 2021 will shed light on the consequences of the climate emergency for the most vulnerable in the world, in order to underline the crises they suffer and assess what their needs are as well. All of this will be discussed and elaborated at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in the month of November.
For its part, the Church, either alone or through the Middle East Council of Churches, is trying to carry out the arduous task it is called by the Lord to assume towards creation in preserving the house that He had prepared for us on the day we were created in this world.
At the beginning of September, the MECC launches the “Season of Creation”, which is an awareness and contemplative activity, based on texts printed in a booklet prepared by a team of specialists working in the ecclesiastical field who met in a committee called the Ecojustice Committee. This work aims to sensitize believers to the importance of preserving the house of God as a future framework for all humanity. This preparatory activity, in which the churches will participate, will be carried through until the fourth of October, after which it will be converted into a sustainable and continuous work plan carried out throughout the year.
The Church is called, directly, or through the MECC, to be a spearhead in preserving the environment and curbing the greed that leads to climate changes. As it is expected that climate changes will lead to the displacement of millions of poor people and leave them without shelter and deprived of any source of livelihood, thus placing them in a state of dependence and humiliation, the Church will thus assume the responsibility of promoting values of justice and human dignity.
The Church is hence called to turn into an agricultural and ecological workshop that restores to nature its splendor, to agricultural work its value and to rural life its loveliness.
This is how the Church has endured for ages, as it has always been a haven for humanity entrusted to it by the Lord.