France is in mourning. Last week, between 21:20, local time, and 22:00, on the 15th November, Paris suffered a series of deadly attacks, described by President Francois Hollande as “unprecedented”. They were, he said, an “act of war” organised by Islamic State (IS) militant groups. Shootings, bomb blasts and a hostage siege have left at least 128 people dead and hundreds wounded. At least 80 are in critical condition. Six places were targeted, almost simultaneously. These are the deadliest attacks in peacetime France, and only the fourth time since the Second World War that a state of emergency has been imposed. The last time was during a 2005 wave of riots in poor suburbs. It is the worst atrocity in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.
In another part of Paris at the same time, I was there with a group of voluntary youth leaders from the World Organization of the Scout Movement meeting to discuss a global programme initiative for young people aged 15 – 26. “The Scouts of the World Award” was launched in order to encourage a stronger involvement of young people in the development of society by making them more aware of the global issues concerning the world today. It includes a set of activities geared towards global citizenship preparation and emphasises the three core themes of environment, development and peace.
We all need to remember that despite this suffering and the other three cities that suffered on the same day, we all need to stand together and carry on because it it more likely that things will get worse before it gets better.