Thursday, April 16, 2009

War Horrors

In Gaza, the post-war stasis continues, leaving little opportunity for reconstruction: Israeli bulldozers topple houses, Israel restricts access to the buffer zone, and restricts humanitarian aid one way or another. As a temporary measure goods file through tunnels; nevertheless, some true progress has taken place. Caryl Churchill’s play, Seven Jewish Children astounds audiences amidst cries of anti-Semitism, boycotts of Israeli products make an impact, and sales of Palestinian Fairtrade items double.


Meanwhile many battlefields remain in dire need of clean-up. The Golden West Humanitarian Foundation diligently labours along doing just that. After locating, neutralizing, and removing explosives, they dispose of them; to do so, they employ some hi-tech methods and some relatively simple ones.

Unfortunately, so many cluster munitions, landmines, and unexploded ordinance remain, that despite these efforts, many people continue to get injured. COPE has done an admirable job of providing prosthetics and orthotics for Laotian victims, and the Cambodian Landmine Museum has done outstanding work with landmine-affected children. Coffeelands Landmine Victim’s Trust distributes aid, including micro-grants, to victims in parts of Central and South America and Africa.

Nevertheless, these war torn regions remain too distant to impact the average North American. (If you have been impacted, you can make a donation to, purchase products from, or volunteer for the above organizations). The suffering of our own troops has raised awareness on the horrors of war; unfortunately, traumatic brain injury (TBI), the most pervasive injury, still remains hidden. Although the Department of Defense continues to downgrade many TBIs, at least the Pentagon admitted that upwards of 360,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered them, perhaps to commemorate Brain Injury Awareness Month.

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