Why Should We Help Pakistan?
This is a guest post written and originally posted by Emily Hull on her facebook notes. I’m posting it here with the permission of author. There has been resentment regarding US aid to Pakistan’s flood victims. Many Americans believe that Pakistan isn’t sincere in its efforts of combating terrorism so why should they care. However, in my view the most important reason that held back people from donating (initially) was the joblessness and the prevailing bad economy. I also feel that the extremely negative publicity of President Zardari’s foreign visit in the local and international media also downplayed the extent of damage in Pakistan.
Written on 14th August:
We’ve had historic flooding here in Ames, Iowa over the last week. It’s possible that flooding may continue for some time. In addition to a day of road closures, evacuations, water damage to businesses, residences, property, we have been further inconvenienced by lack of sanitary running water in our residences and businesses. It is only a temporary inconvenience. We have infrastructure to handle these kinds of emergencies. Businesses and residences will recoup some of their losses through private insurance and government aid. Our water, while not clean from the tap, is drinkable if boiled or treated. Electricity still flows to our homes, so we can boil the water, and we have abundant food so nobody is going hungry. I haven’t read of people completely losing their homes, though for some the damage may be extensive. I have only read of one person losing their life, and that was in a flash flood which could happen to anyone at almost any time of year.
I have read and heard comments from people in our great state of Iowa expressing dismay that people in Iowa are inconvenienced by flooding, and therefore our great nation should not spend money to help others affected by disaster. I assume these people are talking about our aid to Pakistan. We cannot compare our temporary inconvenience to a disaster that has 1,500 counted dead, 14 million people and 1/3 of the country affected. These are people who have lost everything they own save the clothes on their backs, who have no means to cook food, nor food to cook, and certainly no 1 gallon per person per day of free bottled water. They have no clean water to drink. What water they have is severely contaminated and since they have no means to boil the water, many are beginning to succumb to water borne illness. A large portion of their farmland has been affected meaning many of them will go hungry and many more than 1,300 could die of starvation and disease in the coming months.
So why should we care? They are thousands of miles away. They look different; speak a different language than we do, practice a different religion. We are affected now, we should get top priority. Boiling water before washing dishes is inconvenient and takes away time someone could have spent watching TV. It’s summer and hot, and not taking a 20 minute shower every day is uncomfortable. I tell you why we should care.
First, we should care because they are our brothers and sisters in humanity. They laugh at the same jokes we do, even if they are in a different language. They follow their local fashion the same way we do. They buy cars and enjoy ice cream, sports etc. just like us. We are very lucky in Iowa that we live in a rich and prosperous nation that has the means to help its own citizens. The very first day water was shut down free bottled water was being distributed. If you didn’t take advantage of the free water, it was also available for purchase. If you couldn’t find it in Ames, it could be found very nearby in Boon, Nevada, Story City, Ankeny or any other town not served by Ames municipal water. It was inconvenient, but it was there. Nobody was in danger of dehydration or contracting water borne illness due to the unavailability of fresh clean water.
What about getting help now? We ARE getting help now. The water receded quickly, companies and the state stepped in to make sure everyone in Ames had bottled water available to them free of charge. With a little effort on the part of Ames residents and businesses, we will have clean, free water restored by early next week, or about a week after it was shut down. The need in Pakistan will last for months. Including all the people who lost water in Ames, or have been displaced through Iowa, I can estimate a very generous 100,000 people who have been affected by flooding. That is 100,000 people in a small area of a small state in the third largest country of the world which has a population of 300 million. Pakistan is a little larger than the state of California and 1/3 of the country has been affected so far. 13 million people of a population of roughly 150 million have been affected of which 1,500 are known dead.
We should help Pakistan for the sake of humanity. If that doesn’t sway you, we should help them because if we don’t, the Taliban will. They are already stepping in to help in parts of the country where the Pakistani army has been unable to reach, or whose efforts have been inadequate. We’re talking about a country where Polio is still endemic. Polio, the disease Americans developed a vaccine to prevent through the donation of dimes. If we can cure polio with dimes, can’t we spare a few dollars to donate to the United Nations to defeat the Taliban? Can’t we spare a few dollars to give people hope so they don’t turn to extremist ideology in their despair? We of all people should understand their situation, having been through flooding so recently ourselves. Is it so difficult to reach out a hand to your fellow human being and lift him up from a tragedy exponentially larger than the one you so recently faced?
Please help Pakistan now.
Working with mGive, Americans are contributing to Pakistan flood relief by texting the word “SWAT” to 50555. The text results in a donation of $10 to the UNHCR Pakistan Flood Relief Effort. Every $10 helps provide tents and emergency aid to displaced families.
Public Donation Information:
The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for flood response efforts in Pakistan can be found at www.interaction.org. Information on organizations responding to the humanitarian situation in Pakistan may be available at www.reliefweb.int.
Cash donations allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, warehouse space, etc); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate assistance.
More information can be found at:
The Center for International Disaster Information: www.cidi.org or (703) 276-1914
Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at www.reliefweb.int