Meanwhile, America sent in the Marines today. And of course, this isn’t the first time Gulf countries — particularly Saudi Arabia, so glutted with petrodollars — have been slow or stingy in their response to a disaster that affects their non-Arab Muslim brethren. There was the tsunami, and the needs of the World Food Program. Even in one of the latest crises in Pakistan in 2009, their slowness to respond was noted.
If anything that can be blamed on Israel happens in Gaza, they’re on it yesterday. Widespread suffering and disease from natural disasters? Meh. Allah’s will, apparently. Or maybe they’d just rather be agitating for jihad.
“Pakistan president visits flooded regions as official response criticised,” by Mark Tran for the Guardian, August 12:
President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan today made his first visit to an area ravaged by the country’s worst ever flood disaster amid mounting criticism of his lack of leadership in the two-week-old crisis. […]
UN aid agencies and their partners have requested almost $460m (Â£295m) to help Pakistan, but relief organisations have been perplexed by the sluggish international response. Total commitments plus pledges so far amount to $157.8m. “The scale of response is still not commensurate with the scale of the disaster,” the UN said.
Based on the latest estimate of 14 million people affected, the UN said this meant $4.11 has been committed for each affected person, just over 10 days into the response. After the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, which left 2.8 million people needing shelter, $247m was committed in the first 10 days – $70 per person. Ten days after the Haiti earthquake, $495 had been committed for each person affected.
Aid officials have also noted the absence of substantial commitments from the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, which responded generously to past emergencies in Pakistan, most recently when millions fled their homes to escape a government offensive in the Swat valley last year. In the Kashmir earthquake, the Gulf states gave $200m in five to six days.
“A declaration of a national emergency would help,” said Mohammed Quasilbash, country director of Save the Children, “and we’re hoping that it will happen … we are providing water purification tablets and jerry cans but we just don’t have enough money to buy on the scale we need.”
An Oxfam aid worker back from Swat in the hard-hit north-west said aid was beginning to get out, “but we need to do much more. It is a massive emergency and it needs a huge effort”.
British donors have so far given Â£10.5m to help flood victims, according to the Disasters Emergency Committee, which said the money had helped provide more than 500,000 survivors with emergency care, clean water, food or shelter….