Thursday, August 19, 2010
Updating: FLOODS, PAKISTAN: What if this were YOUR country?
UPDATING (Incl. why Edhi won't join commission) through Sunday at end of this post with more items - incl. video and "Just In" postings in Comments
Refugees from Pakistan floods "makeshift" camps
"A fifth of Pakistan lies under water. What happens when at last the soil drains?"
(Recent quote from Richard Roth, journalist covering Pakistan floods)
What if this were US?
The following are paraphrased statements/items from various media. See two posts just below on this site, oneheartforpeace dot blogspot dot com for recommended ways to contribute to Pakistan's great challenge. ( via the EDHI FOUNDATION perhaps the most highly-respected relief group to be based in Pakistan - yet has worked all over the world in emergency situations and know the ropes best. 400 or so Indian Doctors who have volunteered to help plan to work with EDHI!)
PAKISTAN UNDER WATER: THINK - What if this were AMERICA?
If Thirty-five million Americans were homeless -- What a disaster that would be and surely all over world media as well. That is proportionate to the horrific -- and worsening -- situation in Pakistan. Government aid has reached only 500,000 of the 20 million people affected.
Pakistan has just faced a tragic air crash with many dead. Many civilians have been killed due to drones overhead not far from area of the flooding. Some US groups - particularly Blackwater/Xe and some US soldier units have run amok around the nation for months now with arrogance, bad morals, immature shenanigans creating havoc and bad press for America. Of course there's also been the unseemly renditions/torture/kidnapping and bounty/detention/imprisonment scandals as well -- largely with the US at the helm. And various political/religious factions have also drained capabilities as well.
Yet, this time, Pakistan is threatened by Mother Nature. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he has never seen anything like the flood disaster in Pakistan. Ki-moon urges foreign donors to speed up assistance
Two weeks of flooding, with more rain on the way and thousands dead. Of the remaining, NEW refugees total over 20 million Pakistanis, overwhelmingly poor, homes, meager "wealth" and livelihoods GONE.
Many international and local aid groups estimate that 3.5 million children and increasing face grave danger from diseases spread by polluted water and poor to non-existent sanitation. Think cholera, typhoid, dysentery, many medical experts say. Even common diarrhea is a vicious killer among children in the developing world.
100,000 square miles have been entirely inundated leaving thousands of hamlets, villages and towns underwater or swept away entirely: the worst flooding in the region in at least 80 years! Of course, this makes Hurricane Katrina look like a mere thunderstorm.
But Pakistan has less ability to aid its citizens and recover what with hillsides once rich with trees were stripped bare for profit and common shrubbery lost which once helped cooking food for the poor.
The one nationally-structured organization in Pakistan that may have some capability -- the military -- is overwhelmed while often surprisingly innovative and courageous. No disaster since the secession of Bangladesh has so bluntly revealed the national shortcomings. The best from the generals is simply not remotely enough - nor would it be from any other nation. With so many bridges gone, roads and railways washed away, air bases outside Jacobabad overcome by rising waters, there's only inadequate response on every hand.
This is, of course, a world-level challenge!
Of course, The Taliban and other extremist groups will attempt to exploit popular rage. Yet, neither should the US or any other nation be allowed to use the suffering of people as opportunity for propaganda and their own agenda. In a recent TV discussion, American show-host, Katie Couric, discussed the disaster in Pakistan and the Taliban's efforts to win support by providing aid. She said that the U.S. and other nations need to ante up and fast.
The Asian Development Bank said it would grant a loan of $2 billion to help Pakistan rebuild from the floods
John Kerry has been visiting Pakistan, recently and urged more US aid. American leaders have recently pledged a substantial sum according to National Public Radio, USA on Thursday am. The World Bank has released $900 million dollars in flood relief for Pakistan. Both groups most likely are doing so for both for humanitarian and strategic reasons. What choices are left for asking for purist intentions? Still, surely accountability and some measure of moral guidelines are needed in natural catastrophe just as in war/occupation?
The United Nations is coordination the massive international relief effort that far exceeds the demand placed on it during the Haiti earthquake.
Just what are reasonable expectations, goals, on the ground emergency efforts now? What do they look like now, what do they need to be?
Will we all help and thereby also build bridges of peace or will Pakistani, a nation of unusually adept and highly educated experts, leaders and bridge-builders, be left to sink all alone?
(With thanx to Richard Roth with other media on assignment for Pakistan and various activists on behalf of the voiceless poor.)
Updating for Friday: more news on Pakistan Floods & related here and on comments below post
Edhi declines to join ‘commission’
Friday, 20 Aug, 2010
HYDERABAD: World renowned social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi has refused to be part of the commission proposed by Nawaz Sharif, saying he can’t work with capitalists “if anyone wants to work for people in distress they should do it directly”.
Speaking to journalists during a visit to New Sabzi Mandi relief camp on Thursday, Mr Edhi said that he liked to work independently and advised the government to do its duty and he would continue to do his job individually.
He said that it was a vestige of British colonial rule to form a committee if one wanted to sit on an issue. The government had always complained of empty coffers and he just made an appeal for donations and they started pouring in, he said.
He said that he knew how to beg in the streets and on roads.
He said that it was deplorable that rulers of the country were going on foreign trips when millions had been displaced by the worst floods of the country.
He said that Nawaz Sharif had proposed that he be part of a commission but he refused because he could not work with capitalists. The commission should not be formed because it would be tantamount to ridiculing people, he said.
He said that he was not a politician and whenever he asked for help he got positive response and collected millions of rupees. Because of spiralling prices and political crisis people did not come forward for donations the way they did after 2005 earthquake, he said.
He said that he had been in Gilgit, Chitral and Balochistan for the last 90 days and now he had started visiting Sindh with his first visit to Sukkur.
DAWN.COM | National | See "Edhi declines to join"
An heroic effort in Islamabad helping from the ground - with striking photos and reports promised to be ongoing here with compelling title of first post in since floods: "Let's unite like the drops in the raging rivers"
Also note Asia/Valleys of Death with award-winning journalist reporting from the affected areas here and watch for his YouTube video on home page, aljazeera english interviewing peach orchard industry regarding flood results to farmers/crops/nation etc. English AlJazeera Blogs/Asia Here are excerpts from last blog by Sohail Rahman "Pakistan's Valley of Death" (Hoping/expecting that Rahman will show as much caring for Pakistani victims as he has done with others.) Excerpts here from his blog:
...The alarm bells began to ring when the rains didn't stop. It soon became apparent that the rains were forming into floods and floods into a disaster zone. Why weren't the alarm bells heeded I wondered? ...No weather forecaster since the floods has said why the predictions weren't heeded...In the Swat Valley people are warned by the municipal authority. They have an early warning system, loudspeakers attached to the top of trucks warn residents and farmers of excessive rain...
...the announcements were not made further up the valley. There, nobody was warned. How could such a spread of widely located rural villages be warned? Remember no TVs! Many people are too poor to afford them.
The valleys of death were exactly that. Imagine several narrow channels. The rain runs into the river and off the mountains so fast that it takes the river bed, boulders and even the sides of mountains with it. This then rolls down the valley, picking up momentum as it goes. One valley opening meets another and the force and volume is exponentially increased. What you have eventually is a thunderous tidal wave of water up to 20 metres high ripping everything in its path free of their foundations.
For anything to survive it had to withstand a force so fierce that most people had never seen the like of for over eight decades. Grim picture..with many ground transportation links destroyed, the majestic mountains that have attracted so many to see them may soon be the burial site for thousands if help does not come "as soon as possible!"
Posted by CN at 5:24 AM