December 9, 2018

By Saifullah Muhammad, Spoke News

Mehdi Hasan speaks at IDRF Gala at Pearson Convention Centre, on Nov. 10, 2018. Saifullah Muhammad/Conestoga journalism

Journalist Mehdi Hasan delivered a passionate speech for Canadians to speak out against injustice and share values of humanitarianism and compassion around the globe Saturday night at an event at Toronto’s Pearson Convention Centre.

With the rise of displacement and refugees across the world, the Al Jazeera journalist, who prefers to go by the name Mehdi, delivered a keynote address on the issues of the conflict and displacement and urged Canadians to remain generous and collectively make a difference.

“Canada has been more open to the refugees and it remains top among the western countries,” Mehdi said.

“[The] current refugee crisis is the biggest tragedy after the [second World War]. More than 65 million people are displaced or refugees today.

“What are you willing to do and what we are willing to do tonight? Let’s ask ourselves, looking at the tragedy, can we give hope to the millions of children who are looking at the people like us and can give hope for them?”

The event was organized by International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF), to support the Yemen crisis. Over 900 people attended the event – mainly members of the Muslim community, parliamentarians to community activists, diplomats and media personalities. The event was hosted by Global News anchor Farah Nasser.

Mehdi described the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as increasingly becoming one of the most critical in the world. Over 20 million people, or three quarters of the population, remain in need of humanitarian aid and over 2.3 million people have been displaced as a result of the conflict since March 2015.

“There remains no diplomatic solution to this conflict because the riches are dropping bombs on the poor, which has already claimed close to 50,000 lives.

“One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic,” Mehdi added.

According to a United Nations report, 2.9 million children and women are acutely malnourished; the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition has increased 90 per cent in the last three years.

Host Farah Nasser encourages the audience to donate at the IDRF Gala at the Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton on Saturday, November 10, 2018. Saifullah Muhammad/Conestoga journalism

The conflict has also wreaked untold damage on infrastructure, the Yemeni economy, and the availability of basic social services, further contributing to the proliferation of famine and water borne diseases such as cholera. Emergency aid will continue to mean the difference between life and death for Yemenis who are living under these unimaginable conditions.

The UN report also indicates that 13 million people in Yemen may die of famine and starvation if humanitarian relief is not provided.

A surprise highlight of the evening was when a generous donor offered $50,000 for Yemen Relief. The large audience donated $75,000 for the cause in total.

Muhammad Munshi, an executive member of IDRF, said while there is a documented human tendency to turn away from mass suffering, we cannot turn a blind eye.

“I encourage everyone to help support the ongoing humanitarian efforts to provide a glimmer of hope [for] those in need,” Munshi added.

To find out more about IDRF and to donate, click here.

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