Thursday, June 08, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 18, 1444 H
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Another unexpected twist of 2022!

If the war metaphor became prevalent in most discourses surrounding the coronavirus pandemic till the recent weeks, now it is a real time war which has disrupted peace and security

When the world started battling the coronavirus pandemic, what we often heard was the use of war metaphors to describe the fight against Covid-19 because of the nature of the measures adopted by the governments all over the world were at par with those required in war-hit countries.

The pandemic was marked as a security issue. Whether all the leaders spoke of the ‘war’ literally or metaphorically, they identified an enemy albeit it was invisible. Citizens of all countries became ‘soldiers’ in the ‘conflict’.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres even called it a “fight of a generation” and a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security. Former US President Donald Trump’s rhetoric of “a wartime president” and his proclamation that “we will win this war” attracted world attention.

We also heard many other world leaders using the militarised language to frame it as a “war”. Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom announced that “We must act like any wartime government”; and Emmanuel Macron of France said ‘We are in a war’ and Narendra Modi of India said his country is in the midst of a war and every Indian is a soldier in the fight.

Giuseppe Conte of Italy went a step further by invoking the Second World War when he used Winston Churchill’s words to talk about Italy’s “darkest hour.” In many other countries, the governments introduced national emergency bills, which gave them extraordinary power and right to detain people and ban public meetings.

Schools were closed, both air and sea ports closed, blanket ban on travels and an undeclared halt to economic activities! Newspaper editorials even screamed that “We are at war with Covid-19. We need to fight it like a war”!

If the war metaphor became prevalent in most discourses surrounding the coronavirus pandemic till the recent weeks, now it is a real time war which has disrupted peace and security. The Russia-Ukraine war has set off a geopolitical earthquake! The war is another unexpected twist of 2022!

The escalation of violence is leading to grave human suffering. The world has become bear witness to innocent deaths, destruction of civilian infrastructure and massive displacement and soaring humanitarian needs. The victims of this man-made war are human beings like everywhere in the world.

They want to live a normal, free life; enjoy family and friends and community; learn; work; and, each in their own way and find meaning in the world. Alas! They are in an unnecessary tragedy that does not want for unavoidable suffering and destruction.

Among the consequences of war, the impact on the mental health of the civilian population is one of the most significant. Studies of the general population show a definite increase in the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders.

Women are more affected than men. Other vulnerable groups are children, the elderly and the disabled. Prevalence rates are associated with the degree of trauma, and the availability of physical and emotional support.

Histories of past wars remind us that failure to end the war can lead to horrific, generational consequences. Whether it is in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Cambodia, Chechnya, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine or Rwanda, conflict situations have caused more mortality and disability than any major disease.

Wars destroyed communities and families and disrupted the development of the social and economic fabric of nations. The effects of war include long-term physical and psychological harm to children and adults, as well as reduction in material and human capital.

Whether this is one of those moments remains to be seen, but as it becomes clearer that valiant and vigorous attempts at diplomacy are falling on deaf ears, the military dimensions of a response need urgent definition.

Since the current conflict has the potential to be the worst humanitarian crisis not only in Europe, but also in other parts of the world, conflicting nations must give priority to de-escalation, and refrain from all hostilities, including unconventional acts of aggression.

Diplomatic resolution must be premised above all other outcomes while international law must be fully respected by all parties. The UN call to protect civilians in line with international humanitarian law should be respected.

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