Postquake – who is helping?

Please find below articles out from ‘the Christian Science Monitor’, an UN-Meeting, twice ‘the Guardian unlimited’.

From The Monitor’s View: For postquake Pakistanis, a greater need: Try explaining “donor fatigue” to the earthquake survivors in Pakistan – up to 3 million of whom need food and shelter as winter blows into the Himalayas. Or, explain it to hard-line Muslim groups providing humanitarian assistance while the West responds with far less magnanimity than it did after Asia’s tsunami.

Perhaps because the Oct. 8 quake came in the wake of other large-scale disasters, perhaps because nations’ aid budgets are stretched, or because the 7.6 temblor hasn’t received 24/7 media coverage – whatever the reasons, the relief effort in mountainous northern Pakistan is in a cash crisis, and requires urgent response.

“We needed the money yesterday,” United Nations emergency relief chief Jan Egeland said this week when the UN increased its request for aid from $312 million to $550 million. Before the appeal, the international community had delivered less than 30 percent of the original goal.

Unless the response is lightning quick, the UN warns, more people could die from hunger, cold, and disease than did in the initial quake, which killed 54,000 to 78,000 people, depending on the estimate. More than 224,000 people perished in the Pacific Ocean tsunami, but swift international intervention prevented more deaths from the aftermath.

UN officials say aid workers have only five weeks left to get six months’ worth of food supplies and shelter to millions of survivors before winter cuts off accessibility. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for a “Berlin airlift,” but already this week helicopters were grounded due to bad weather in the mountains.

The world hastened to respond to the Asian tsunami, with the UN receiving 80 percent of its aid request in a mere 10 days. It was the holiday season, and Westerners were home watching gripping footage on TV. The media saturation, the rarity and geographic spread of the tragedy, and the fact that wealthy countries had tourists in the stricken areas, combined to produce an outpouring of generosity, both private and official.

This time, other news has pushed quake coverage from the headlines. And Americans are still processing hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Oxfam International describes 2005 as a year of “some of the worst natural disasters ever,” with severe draught and hunger in Africa also unable to generate the donations needed there.

A humanitarian crisis compounded by winter in Pakistan should serve as ample impetus for giving, but the politics of the situation adds to the urgency. Obvious and full US assistance after the tsunami improved America’s standing in the Muslim country of Indonesia, for instance. Swift aid to Pakistan could change “the climate and the dynamic of how the United States is viewed,” and that’s important for combating terrorism, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said at a Monitor breakfast this week.

On Wednesday, the State Department responded to the UN’s call by raising its earthquake commitment by just over $100 million. So far, it’s actually spent nearly $25 million, and hopefully, it will quickly follow through on this new pledge.

Tragedy has a way of uniting the world in generous giving, when people are informed of the need and when they feel they can do something to alleviate it.

Additionnally: the French Television tells today that about 20% of the villages in the mountains have still not bean reached for secours, this 3 weeks after the terrible earthquake. It is told that it is the military hierarchy imposing the choice of which village has to be secured. This while the first snow appears and they still not know how many people need help. Now it is the islamic militants giving first aid, they are warmly welcome by the population, while the government is critizised.

Relief ‘vastly underfunded’, UN needs 210,000 more tents: GENEVA, Oct 27: Key emergency aid operations for Pakistani earthquake survivors are still vastly underfunded a day after donor nations promised about half a billion dollars more in overall assistance, UN data indicated on Thursday.

A UN-coordinated appeal has received just two per cent (1.5 million dollars) of the 95 million dollars needed for shelter and non-food supplies, the latest financial tracking information from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) showed.

Just four per cent (2.5 million dollars) of the 58 million dollars needed for food aid has been paid over, while donors have delivered 17 per cent of the 62 million dollar health budget.

Aid agencies have warned that those three sectors are crucial to the fate of an estimated two million people, including the homeless and injured, in mountainous Azad Kashmir, with winter due to set in within weeks.

About 1.6 million people are in need of assistance with food, and up to 1.6 million face winter without shelter of any kind, according to UN documents given to some 60 donor nations at a meeting in Geneva on Wednesday.

While 316,000 tents have been provided or are on their way to the devastated region, the UN estimates that another 210,000 need to be sent swiftly to the region before bad weather closes in.

The overall United Nations appeal has garnered 69 million dollars, or 13 per cent of the 550 million dollar total.

That is equivalent to about one fifth of what was needed before the appeal was increased on Wednesday.

Excluding promised aid, the top contributors so far are the United States (10.8 million dollars), unnamed private donors (8.2 million dollars), Japan (eight million dollars), Scandinavian countries and Canada.

The total contributions do not include another 43.8 million dollars in uncommitted pledges towards the appeal, according to the UN data.

Although the aid is meant to run over six months, a World Food Programme official estimated that about 60 per cent of funding was necessary to be able to pre-position enough food stocks in the region to cope with winter.

International donors promised an additional 580 million dollars for Pakistan at the meeting in Geneva, though not necessarily for the urgent operations in the appeal, according to a tally by UN officials.

The pledges were inadequate and may not save a single one of the survivors facing a cold and hungry winter, British charity Oxfam said on Thursday.

The appeal for funding, first launched on October 11, covers operations by UN agencies, as well as some other independent charities such as Save the Children, the International Rescue Corps (IRC) and World Vision, over six months.

However, several dozen other agencies, including the Red Cross and Red Crescent are active in the area struck by the earthquake and have separate appeals or funding sources.

The UN tally does not account for some aid in kind such as the NATO airlift flying essential supplies to Pakistan.

Pakistan is also receiving direct bilateral offers form other governments.

An estimated 1.3 million dollars has been promised or donated for Pakistan through various channels, either for short-term relief or long-term reconstruction.

HELICOPTERS: Helicopters ferrying food and supplies to Pakistan’s quake victims stranded in the Himalayas may have to be grounded in just days if donors fail to increase emergency relief aid, a UN official said in Geneva on Thursday.

“When the money runs out, the choppers stay on the ground and that’s what’s going to start happening in the next couple of days,” said Robert Smith, financial expert at the United Nations’ leading disaster-relief body, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).

Relief workers and earthquake survivors were disappointed by a meagre $16 million raised at a donor conference in Geneva on Wednesday that had been designed to raise $550 million.

Hopes faded for a second-day surge in donations as UN staff recorded only $2 million in net new contributions on Thursday, bringing the total to $113 million — far short of the $550 million the UN says it needs to avert a catastrophe.

The UN’s World Food Programme, charged with the logistics for the entire UN relief effort, said it was alarmed that so little money had been committed.

“Without new donations, we can’t procure food or fly the helicopters,” WFP said in a statement. “With hundreds of thousands of people still cut off by landslides and winter setting in, there are fears that desperately needed aid could come too late.”

Mr Smith said helicopters were virtually the only way to supply those stranded as the quake, snows and landslides triggered by some 900 recorded aftershocks had made most roads impassable.—AFP/Reuters

The Guardian unlimited: India promises $25m to Pakistan for quake relief – Small breakthrough in relations between rivals
· Aid workers warn there is no time for politics

Declan Walsh in Islamabad and Alex Kumi, Friday October 28, 2005. India has pledged $25m (£14m) to Pakistan’s earthquake appeal in one of the largest donations ever between the nuclear rivals. The money was promised at a UN donors’ conference in Geneva to raise emergency funds for the disaster, which aid workers warn could lead to thousands more deaths as the harsh Himalayan winter nears.

Despite an emotive appeal by the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, by last night just $113m of the $550m fund had been pledged. However, donors also pledged another $580m to the Pakistani government and non-UN agencies, mostly for long-term reconstruction.

The Indian donation was a minor breakthrough in relations between the two states, which are seeking to overcome old animosities to help the emergency operation.

Meanwhile, in Kashmir, thousands of survivors are stranded in remote mountain valleys near the ceasefire line between the two countries, hemmed in by landslides on one side and the heavily militarised boundary on the other. For two weeks the countries have exchanged proposals but produced no real breakthrough. India sent planes and trains filled with aid and agreed to lift a no-fly zone along the Kashmir ceasefire line. But Pakistan would only accept an offer of Indian helicopters without Indian air crews. India said no.

Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, later proposed opening the line of control to allow survivors to seek help. India countered with an offer of establishing refugee camps on its side of the line.

Tomorrow the two countries are due to start talks in Islamabad about opening a limited number of crosspoints in Kashmir. Analysts expect success but say the talks remain highly politicised.

An adversarial tone has been set on the streets of Islamabad, where giant banners have appeared bearing slogans such as “Indian occupation of Kashmir is a travesty of international law” and “Salute to the martyrs of Kashmir”.

One billboard opposite the parliament shows frightened looking children under the slogan “Victims of Indian state terror”.

“It’s a real disappointment,” said one western diplomat in Islamabad.

Amanullah Khan, head of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, who wants independence from both countries, said: “They are just making politics. It is nothing but point scoring.”

Aid workers are making the point that there is no time for politics. The first significant snow of the winter is expected in about three weeks, exposing an estimated 2.7 million homeless people to the threat of hunger and hypothermia.

“The international community lacks full comprehension of the catastrophe that is looming large,” said the UN chief aid coordinator, Rashid Khalikov, in Muzaffarabad.

Former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan, now a politician in his home country, has described the international community’s response to the tragedy as “poor” and expressed fears about the plight of survivors as winter approaches.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to transport aid to the worst affected areas.

A Save the Children aid flight from the UK will deliver much needed items on Monday. The Boeing 747, which will fly from Gatwick, will carry 55 tonnes of tents, tarpaulins and plastic sheeting to provide vital shelter.

another Guardian articleBritish amateurs help quake survivors: · Bradford Muslims brought aid just days after quake; · More help must arrive before winter, says UN.

Declan Walsh in Pashto, Wednesday October 26, 2005. A deafening whine and a storm of straw filled the air as a Pakistani army helicopter hovered uncertainly over a narrow mountaintop settlement deep inside the earthquake zone. The door opened.

Ifty Hussain braced himself against the blast of incoming air, and yelled. “Blankets! Tents!” he shouted in a thick Yorkshire accent. “Quickly, quickly!”

Bundles of bedding and steel tent poles tumbled out of the hatch. Far below, villagers rushed from their flimsy shelters to scoop up the relief aid, struggling to stay on their feet under the powerful rotor wash. Job done, the helicopter lifted away.

We might not have much,” said Mr Hussain, passing over other hilltops filled with survivors waving flags, flashing mirrors or cutting hopeful “H” signs into the soil. “But if we can give a little, and do it well, that’s what counts.”

British Muslim volunteers have joined emergency efforts to rush relief to thousands of stranded villagers in northern Pakistan. Of the 3 million people made homeless, about 800,000 still have no shelter, the UN said, just weeks before the first snows of the Himalayan winter.

India said it would send officials to Islamabad later this week for discussions on opening up the “line of control” – the de facto border dividing Kashmir – to help quake survivors reach help.

In contrast with the political negotiations Mr Hussain’s group mobilised with lightning speed. Within 48 hours of the October 8 quake the recruitment consultant from Bradford had mustered a group of 19 – nine volunteer aid workers and 10 medics, all of Pakistani origin, under the banner of his charity, Orphan Child. The following Saturday they were on a plane to Pakistan.

The aid amateurs, who carried £70,000 in cash donations in their pockets, snapped up thousands of blankets, shawls and tents, and headed for the worst-hit areas. “We found people in a really bad state. Some hadn’t received food for a while, and there wasn’t much shelter,” said Mr Hussain after dropping a second aid load over a mountain settlement yesterday. “It might look beautiful up here now but at night it can get really cold.”

Although the aid was modest they worked hard to ensure none ended up in the wrong hands. “A lot of people come from the towns and cities, take the aid goods and sell them back to the wholesalers,” he said. “That’s why we are trying to climb up the mountains to distribute directly to the people who need it.”

The volunteers are devout Muslims – back in Bradford Mr Hussain didn’t hear about the quake for the first 24 hours because his television was switched off for Ramadan – but he insists that Orphan Child, which also sent volunteers to last year’s tsunami emergency, is motivated by neither race nor creed. “We’re just trying to help people, whether they are black, white, yellow or green. It doesn’t matter if they are Muslims or not,” he said.

Other aid efforts are also accelerating. Pakistan said it was sending 2,000 more soldiers, including engineers to blast through landslides. About 100 American soldiers arrived in Muzaffarabad to set up the US army’s only Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (Mash) unit. Initially it lacked some surgical equipment because not all the US trucks could negotiate the roads, but yesterday it treated its first patient, a three-year-old girl with a broken thigh.

Meanwhile powerful aftershocks continue to rock the region. A magnitude 6.0 tremor hit on Sunday evening.

· The World Food Programme has received just 13% of the $56m (£32m) it needs to feed the earthquake victims through the winter, its director, Amir Abdullah said yesterday. “It must be clear to everybody that many people could die if we do not do more more quickly,” he said.

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