Monday, 26 March 2012

An eventful journey

Arrived at my hotel in Dakar well past midnight after a fairly eventful trip. Due to no direct flights from anywhere in the UK I travelled via Lisbon via a supposed short wait. However take off was delayed by one hell of a hullaballoo at the back of the plane. We were matter of factly told that the ‘noise was due to a passenger being deported from Portugal but.. there are 7 security officers on board.’  A further 4 police officers came on and left after half an hour...  That deportation could be for all sorts of reason but knowing it was likely to be a desperate refugee, it was a pretty unnerving first-hand experience of someone fighting not to go back to Africa.  We are inevitably going to see more mass migration due to both economic and environmental reasons. Behind the numbers are the personal tragedies  - whether or not people are successful in getting visas. About time that governments (all round the world) stopped seeing the refugees as the problem – and started addressing the causes.

With Lancaster's temperature higher than Portugal as I left– and actually not that far off Dakar, as stark reminder back home that something's not quite right about the global weather system. It might be good for the British spirit  but its hard not to feel the sign of less welcome changes yet to come... or for countries elsewhere.  I have with me ( for a bit of light reading)  the latest report from the North West Public Health Observatory The Impact of Climate Change upon Health and Health Inequalities in the North West of England . Among other things it highlights that by the 2080s in North West England temperatures are expected to increase by 2.6 degrees in winter and 3.7 in summer. Feels like that could happen far sooner just now. 

The report goes on to predict the effect of the temperature rises on health, or rather illness, demand on the NHS. Needless to say there is going to be massive increase (eg  15% increases by 2020 in annual hospital admissions from respiratory diseases alone). Just as destruction of the NHS comes into full force?  “This week as we turned the clocks forward by an hour, Cameron turned the NHS back by 60 years” 
Back to Dakar – Abdoullah Wade, Senegal's president  for the last 10 years  was peacefully  ousted  yesterday as I was arriving (events not related), even though he was hoping to subvert his own legislation of limiting the president to 2 terms of office. Despite foreign  office warnings of riots on the streets it was completely calm and almost deserted on the way from the airport to the hotel. The manager was asleep on the reception sofa, the TV was showing crowds cheering from earlier in the day and the the  interviwed ex –president was, if my French serves me well, blaming the French and the US Governments. ‘Tant pis’ said the manager

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