17.04.2019 Feature Article

From Australia With Love

From Australia With Love
17.04.2019 LISTEN

I still wonder how it has been possible to hang the plane in the skies for such a long hours without dropping to the ground. It seem so wrong, and so frightening, for this heavy plane, with several weights of human beings and their luggage, and with all the food stored, to keep itself up in the skies without falling for several hours.

It used to be the scariest time for me each time I had flown over the Atlantic Ocean. One week to each trip to America was a dreadful anxious moment with a lot of prayers and self-confession of sins, and a lot of family planning, just in case that was my final moment.

So I have died several times before starting to live. There were times I would never eat, neither would I drink nor even to rise up to the washroom, for my fear was that my rising up might force the plane into dropping from the skies, to the ground.

I have encountered some of the roughest turbulence in my travelling life. In the year 2011, on a very short flight from Telluride to Denvar, in a very small plane, our plane hit one of the severest storms I have ever encountered. A couple of years later, on a flight from Houston to Austin, we hit a storm that tossed the plane like a whirl wind will do to a paper kite. Five years ago, while on my way from JFK to Heathrow, we were confronted with the scariest mid Atlantic Ocean storm that I have ever witnessed. As I viewed the flight path on the plane’s entertainment screens, I realized we were right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, with no chance of being able to land anywhere around, so the only option was to keep flying.

But as I kept flying, I kept assuring myself that there were hundreds of thousands of planes taking off and landing the world over. Barely any one of them dropped from the skies, and so we are also not going to drop to the ground.

I kept reading nearly every single article written about aviation accidents, and turbulence, with my flying confidence increasing after each flight. Today I look forward to long haul flights, with more exciting experiences. I just enjoyed my longest number of hours in flight, almost 15 hours, with Emirates’ A380, from Sydney to Dubai, and it was perfectly fine.

Statistically flying remains the safest form of transport there is in the world, making air travel almost without risks, even as the number of those travelling continues to rise, with the year 2017 being the safest year in aviation history. According to the National, globally in 2017, 4.1 billion passengers travelled by air, with a total of just 50 fatalities from accidents involving scheduled commercial flights. This equates to a fatality rate of 12.2 deaths per one billion passengers.

And the number of long haul fights keep increasing. Singapore Airlines just announced that it will launch the world’s longest non-stop flight route in October 2019, using an aircraft that offers no economy class, between Singapore’s Changi Airport and Newark Airport. Before this route gets underway, Qantas and Emirates are reported to have already placed orders for several Airbus 380 to begin 20-hour non-stop long hauls in a number of routes. As my confidence has sky rocketed, I look forward to doing all these daring long hauls, and to inspire those with fear of flying, that it is safe, and it is ok to look forward to hanging in the air, and fly.

Anyway, last week the UN Financial Sector Commission had its third meeting in Australia. And yours truly, Simpa Panyin, showed up. While some of our Ghanaian public officials are busily denying the existence of human trafficking in Ghana, the Australian government was busily passing laws to ensure that their businesses become transparent in reporting their efforts at addressing the situation. There seem to be an imminent changing scenes in the way the world is waging war against human trafficking, and the earlier we wake up to it the better. It is predicted that very soon no business can operate profitably if that business did not deliberately promote a strategy to address human trafficking in their operations, and the international financial system is likely to force all of us to do responsible business through the cleansing of our supply chains.

It is estimated that there are over 45million people living in modern slavery globally, and the profits from this trade has now exceeded US150billion annually. The Global Slavery Index estimates that there are over 100,000 victims of slavery in Ghana, with over 20,000 children estimated to be victims in Lake Volta alone.

The Ghana government has passed a number of laws aimed at addressing the problem. The Human Trafficking law seems to be the strongest of all the laws passed, with the Anti Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service being the most active state institution at the forefront of addressing the problem, even though they face mountain logistical challenges.

The UN Financial Sector Commission is due to release its report this September, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. As a member of the Financial Commission, I hold a duty to stimulate conversations around the globe. But I cannot do so without addressing the seeming lack of commitment on the part of my government. The current Human Trafficking law is inadequate, in the light of the changing trends in the fight against modern slavery. The law seem to focus almost entirely on justice and service to victims, without mobilizing the citizenry to take action. This needs to be addressed.

We all don’t know yet what will be the next steps. But for sure the fight against human trafficking is not going to look the same after the UN Financial Commission’s report is released. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, goal 8.7 is clear in the international community’s commitment towards addressing the issue that currently confronts mankind. If we will be able to end this problem by the set target date of 2030, then we can no longer pay lip service to the problem. Each country, each business, and each citizen of the world must learn about the problem and take action. Only by doing so can we see a world free from slavery, and slavery-like practices.

BY James Kofi Annan

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