When earthquake hit Haiti this January 2010, the world rose in unison to help the victims of the deadly shake with many nations generously chipping in to donate for the people and governments munificently sending billions of dollars of aid and displatching relief teams to the country.
But today, when Pakistan has been hit by the most devastating floods in its history, which have been termed as “the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history with the number of people suffering possibly to exceed the combined total in three recent megadisasters – the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake” by the UN, it seems that the world has started to suffer from a ‘donor fatigue’ or has intentionally closed its eyes and ears to the cries and pleas of the flood-hit Pakistanis.
While it is true, that the number of people killed in the Haitian Earthquake were more than those killed in the floods but according to statistics and figures available it can be known that around 20 million have been affected, thousands injured or left homeless with their families separated from them, over 722,000 houses damaged or destroyed, 70,000 children at a risk of dying of malnutritioon and around 6 million can lose their lives in the second expected wave of death likely to be caused by a combination of lack of clean water, food shortages and water-borne and vector-borne diseases.
It has become apparent that those in other countries seem to ignore the current state of people in Pakistan considering the type of image that is portrayed of the country by much of the Western media – of a terrorist and barbaric nation that only breeds intolerance and extremism despite the fact that it is the single most nation that has bore the brunt of terrorism the most.
But some like Liz Borkowski have come to realize that the catastrophe is not being met with the appropriate response as it should. She has written a post on why the floods here are not receiving as much aid and attention as Haiti. Writing as :
“The UN has requested $459 million for emergency relief and has received or gotten commitments for 35% of that. The majority of that has come from the US and UK governments reports Nathaniel Gronewold of Greenwire. Aid agencies report that responses from individual US donors have been slow, though.
On the list of possible factors behind the lag in individual US donations, Gronewold starts with “public opinion of Pakistan” and cites a June CNN poll showing “78 percent of Americans hold mostly unfavorable views of Pakistan.” I’d like to think people can hold an unfavorable opinion of a country but still be willing to help its citizens get food and water after a natural disaster; maybe when it comes to donations, though, decisions aren’t entirely rational.
I expect the slow pace of donations is mostly a function of less media coverage (compared to the Haiti earthquake). It’s not like the major news organizations are failing to cover Pakistan’s disaster at all, but so far I don’t think I’ve seen many stories about individual families’ struggles – and those are the pieces that spur donations. ”
One UN assessment in the province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) found: “37% of women in households surveyed were consuming less food than men, while 50% of households reported having no food for an entire day.”
The UN asked for $460 million to fund an emergency response. So far, donors have contributed or pledged $148 million, or 32% of the total. The top donors are the United States ($75,621,599), the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund ($26,595,962) The United Kingdom ( $40,235,085 ) Denmark ( 26,595,962 ) and Private individuals and organzations ($10,510,184).
After visiting flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “In the past I have visited the scenes of many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this.”
Approximately, 1/5 th of Pakistan is under water.
Elizabeth Ferris at ReliefWeb has prepared an excellent analysis and report on the comparison between the Haiti Earthquake and Pakistan Floods, compiling a data as follows:
|Haitian earthquake||Pakistan flooding|
|Date of disaster||12 Jan 2010First OCHA Situation Report: January 12||Late July 2010 (First reports of flash floods in Baluchistan on July 23, floods in KPK starting around July 26/27)First OCHA Situation Report: July 29|
|National population 2009||10.2 million||166.1 millionii|
|Displaced||Est. 1.8 million (1.3 within Port-au-Prince, 500.000 leaving Port-au-Prince) vii||Est. 6 million in need of shelter(August 23)|
|Total affected/as percentage of total national population||3 million (29.4 %)ix||17.2 millionx (10.35 %)|
|Houses destroyed/damaged||105.000/208.000xi||1,226,678 (August 23)xii|
|Original UN Flash appeal launched||15 January: xviiUS $ 575 million||11 August: xviiiUS $ 460 million|
|International pledges 2 weeks after flash appeal as percent of total appeal||82 %xix||57 %xx|
|Flash appeal funded 100 %||16 February (35 Days)xxiOn Feb 18 revised Humanitarian Appeal is launched requesting US $ 1.4 billion for 1 year (includes the $575 Million of the flash appeal)|
|US pledges||US $ 211.6 millionxxii (part of the extended 1.4 billion US $ appeal)||US $ 150 millionxxiii (August 23)|
|Appeal by International Federation of the Red Cross/Crescent Society||US $ 103 million||US $ 74 million|
|Number of tents/plastic sheets distributed 3 weeks after||10,545/11,390 (February 3)xxiv||109,500/72,200 (August 23)xxv|
|% of displaced receiving tents/tarpaulins (after three weeks)||1.2 %||3.0 %|
|Donation per affected person received after 2 weeks of flash appeal||US $ 157.16||US $ 15.24|
|Role of US military||Deployed 22,000 troops,58 aircrafts,15 ships;oversaw airport operations,
rehabilitated the harbor,
distributed aid, hospital ship
|15 helicopters,as of August 24 the U.S. military had delivered 1.5 million pounds of relief supplies and food,and helicopters had rescued or transported about 6,500 people.xxvi|
|Health concerns||Traumatic injuries,including crushing Injuries,high needs for surgery, infections||Water-borne illnesses (diarrhea, cholera),skin-disease,acute respiratory disease|
|Protection concerns||Trafficking of children;gender-based violence in camps,generalized insecurity||Early reports of separated families, a few landmine victims,discrimination against lower castes,women-headed households|
|Shelter concerns||Land tenure issues, rubble clearance||Land markers washed away by floods, mud removal|
|Political concerns||Interrupted Haitian election timetable,governance questions and relief effort;||Potential strengthening of fundamentalist groups,destabilization and delegitimization of government|
|Economic concerns||70 % of Haiti’s GDP is generated in the Port-au-Prince area which has been most heavily impacted by the disaster, massive destruction of infrastructure||Massive destruction of infrastructure, 3.2 million hectares of standing crops have so far been damaged or lost;widespread loss of livestock|
|Logistics||Destroyed airport, harbor, roads.Generally bad infrastructure;Particular logistics difficulties in Port-au-Prince and surroundings||Destroyed roads, bridges;some areas only accessible by helicopter;20% of the country flooded|
|Total GDP 2009 xxvii||US $ 6.5 billion||US $ 166.5 billion|
|GDP per capita 2009 nominal||$733||$1,017|
|Estimated Damage||US$ 7.8 billionxxix||Est. US $ 15 billionxxx|
|Estimated Damage as percentage of GDP||119 %||9 %|
|Reconstruction Pledges||March 31 – Donors pledge US $ 9.9 billion of which US $ 5.3 billion is pledged over 2 years (requested US $3.9 billion).||Aug. 22 – World Bank US $ 0.9 billion Asia Development Bank US $ 2.0 billion (loans)|
|Corruption Perception Index 2009 (out of 180)||160||139|
|HDI 2009xxxii (out of 182)||149||141|
|Media stories 10 days after the disaster xxxiii||Well over 3,000 stories in both print and broadcast media respectively by day 10 and by day 20||320 broadcast news stories and 730 print news stories|
|Top 10 donors (pledges)||Venezuela US$ 2.417 mInter-American Development Bank US$2.000 m
USA US$ 1.152 m
European CommissionUS$ 567m
IMF US$ 436 m
Spain US$ 427 m
World Bank US $ 399 m
Canada US $ 387 m
US $ 322 m
(Donor’s Conference) xxxiv
|USA US $161.9 mSaudi Arabia US $114.4 m
UK US $108 m
European Commission US $93.5 m
Private Donors US $84.2 m
Germany US $32 m
Australia US $31.8 m
CERF US $26.6 m
Norway US$ 14.8 m
Japan US$ 14.4 m
(Flash Appeal) xxxv
So why this difference? When over eighty international artists collaborated for the song ‘We Are The World’ for Haiti, why have not international celebrities other than a few (George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Ashton Kutcher) and sportsmen spoken about or rallied for the distressed and hopeless people of Pakistan who now neither have nothing to look back to nor a future to look to until people help them? If Haiti was poor, it should be remembered that Pakistan too is a developing country with rsising poverty and inflation. Does there not even a speck of sympathy and empathy reside in our hearts anymore? Why such slim coverage of this catalysm that has struck a nation already struck by many jolts?
I urge everyone to raise awareness about the flood-wrecked families in Pakistan and the need for the world to show their compassion and donate, for those in Pakistan are equally human and their lives equally important as those in other parts of the world.
RISE FOR HUMANITY.
- Hafsa Khawaja