Cheryl Seal
NOW OR NEVER: Earthquake Victims Doomed to Die?
Sat Oct 29, 2005 11:18

Pakistani president Musharraf was there when Bush needed him, but now that Musharraf's nation is in desperte need, all Bush has done is send the equivalent of a couple of bucks and a "Gee, that sucks."

No doubt the only way Pakistan can get aid from the US is for Musharraf to announce that Bin Laden is lurking in the earthquake zone. While the Bush administration has pledged just $50 million to aid over two million homeless, starving Pakistanis who face winter without shelter or adequate food, it poured $148 MILLION into Pakistan in military aid for 2005 - up from about $73 million.

Yet Bush continues to claim he is a "good Christian?" What a sick joke!

from the Pakistan news service "Dawn"

MUZAFFARABAD, Oct 28: Earthquake relief efforts will have to be scaled back putting tens of thousands of lives at risk unless donors give another $250 million immediately, the United Nations said on Friday.

The world body says that with the severe Himalayan winter weeks away and many survivors of the quake without food or shelter, only about $111 million of $550 million needed for emergency relief has been provided.

A fresh appeal on Thursday generated only $16 million.

“We need at least $200-250 million now,” UN emergency coordinator Jan Vandemoortele told a news conference. “If we don’t have that we will fail,” he said.

“Frankly, I don’t know how to say this any more clearly in plain English: ‘It’s now or never; we will not have a second chance’.”

Mr Vandemoortele said the money was needed “yesterday” and expressed bafflement at the failure of donors to deliver.

“At the very latest we need it today — tomorrow will be too late for thousands and thousands of victims, especially babies and small children vulnerable to pneumonia, diarrhoea, malnutrition, et cetera.”

Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao told reporters the death toll had risen to 55,000, with 78,000 hurt, and the number of dead was likely to rise. Another 1,300 died in occupied Kashmir.

Aid workers fear the failure to deliver funds means a similar number could die of hunger and exposure as in the quake, which left more than three million homeless or needing shelters in AJK and the NWFP.

The World Food Programme’s Michael Jones told the news conference it currently had food for 500,000 people over the winter but 2.3 million needed to be fed.

“That means many will go without food,” he said. “You don’t see the visible signs of malnutrition and nutrition-related disease right now, but what you will find in one month or two month’s time is severe and widespread malnutrition,” he said.

Without more money the UN would only be able to keep its vital helicopter fleet running another week, he said.

With many roads blocked by landslides, helicopters are the best means of getting food and shelter to villages and patients to hospital, but they cost around $11,000 an hour to fly.

WFP logistics chief Matthew Hollingworth said $50 million was needed right away to keep the helicopters flying, while Chris Lom of the International Organization for Migration said there was still a shortage of 200,000 tents.

A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization said 24 people had died of tetanus due to delays in treating dirty wounds and a large number of people were at the risk of illnesses brought on by cold weather.

Rachel Lavy said deaths from infected wounds were bound to rise as only about 22,000 injured had made it to hospital.

“If the helicopters are grounded it would have a huge impact, not just in terms of getting people to hospital but in terms of getting shelter and food out to the villages,” she said.

Three weeks after the earthquake, aid has still to reach many places and many families have been living in the open or under basic cover, like cotton and plastic sheets.

Both Pakistan and India have been criticized for politicizing the disaster and analysts say Saturday’s talks between the two countries on opening routes across the LoC to facilitate relief efforts were likely to result in only limited crossings for stranded villagers.—Reuters

For an overview of the staggering amount of cash the US gives to PROMOTE rather than ease, human suffering around the world, see:

U.S. Military Aid and Arms Transfers Since September 11

A World Policy Institute Special Report
by Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung, with Leslie Heffel
June 2005

Main Page - Monday, 10/31/05

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