If you are a humanitarian, are there limits to relief efforts? With all the news lately reporting on the “international community” responding to the crisis in Libya (Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, the entire region..), the question arises: How can our concern about human crises be directed to some populations while ignoring others?

I admit a certain sensitivity to the Ivory Coast because one of my sons has a friend and seminary colleague there. The last we heard from him, he was asking for prayers as he proceeded to visit his family in the hostile region for the holidays. It has only grown worse since then.

Mr Gbagbo is resisting calls for him to cede power to his rival, Alassane Ouattara – widely recognised as the winner of last year’s election in the world’s largest cocoa producer.

“The massive displacement in Abidjan and elsewhere is being fuelled by fears of all-out war,” said UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva.

She pointed out that the estimate of up to a million displaced was double the figure from just a week ago.

Ivory Coast’s population is about 22 million.

Many of those fleeing are migrants from Ivory Coast’s poorer northern neighbours, who went there looking for work when it was West Africa’s economic powerhouse.

Okay, think about that. As in….22 million individual human beings looking for a decent life.

Like the young seminarian and his family. He was a young man who studied in our area with my son. Now he has to contend with a civil war in a far away land, fearful for himself and his family. But it’s not so far away, and we are joined in the cause of relief.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....