Friday, August 27, 2010

Time For Our Better Selves To Show Up

This article has been temporarily post-dated to keep it at the top of the blog page until Friday. New content, if any, will be below until then. The article was originally published on Aug. 23, 2010.

Caption: Pakistan relief efforts continue

A Chinook in Company B, Task Force Raptor, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Falcon, flies over a bridge destroyed by flood waters, Aug. 11, in the Swat valley, Pakistan.

The extent of the devastation in this part of Pakistan is clearly visible.

Image credit: U.S. Army/Sgt. Monica K. Smith

In all the talk about "Ground Zero Mosques", a larger issue has been largely forgotten, as Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell said on The Rachel Maddow Show the other day:

I know that it‘s a midterm election. And so, yes, I think part of this is some GOP leaders trying to pull the last little bit of political capital they can out of 9/11. But it is Ramadan. It is a holy time for Muslims. And on top of that, in the Muslim world right now, there is an enormous tragedy. Fifteen million people in Pakistan are suffering.

And one thing that we could do as Americans is to say, OK, rather than being exclusionary , rather than fighting over a piece of ground—as sacred and hallowed as it may be in our national understanding—that instead, we will reach out to the millions of Muslims who are currently suffering, through no faults of their own, as a result of this horrifying natural disaster during a high holy moment—what that might that say about who we are as Americans instead of having this fight over this little parcel of land.

'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, August 16th, 2010

Caption: Flooding-Nowshera, Pakistan-August 5, 2010: This is a satellite image of Nowshera and the surrounding area that has been flooded.

Click on the picture to enlarge. Click on the image credit link to be taken to a much larger version.

Image credit: DigitalGlobe/Flickr

The flooding situation just keeps getting worse. It's still the monsoon season in southern Asia, as Reuters noted a few days ago:

The floods, which began in late July after heavy monsoon rains over the upper reaches of the Indus River basin, have ploughed a swathe of destruction from northern Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan province to the southern province of Sindh.
The monsoon season in Pakistan lasts until the first week of September.

Pakistan floods 2010

The devastation is immense, as the BBC reports:

The UN now estimates that the number of people who need basic shelter has gone from two million to six million.

Nearly 17 million people have been affected by the floods.

This week marks a month since the flooding started, and although the United Nations says it has raised close to 70% of the $460m (£295m) needed to provide emergency relief, many people have yet to receive any help, says the BBC's Jill McGivering in Sindh, the country's worst affected province.

Some $54m of that money is in uncommitted pledges. Resources available now total $263m.

Pakistan's Humanitarian Situation Critical - UN

Seventeen million people is nearly the population of Florida, which the U.S. Census reports, now has 18.5 million people. The CIA World Book's entry on Pakistan lists Pakistan's population as 177 million. That means that one Pakistani in ten is now affected by the floods.

Andrew Mitchell in Pakistan

The Secretary of State for International Development walks through flood affected areas of Pir Sabak, near camps funded by UKaid.

To me, this says so much about our world - a government official going to a disaster location, as much to be seen as to see.

The other thing to note, of course, is that this is a tent city in a country that isn't known for a temperate climate. Millions of people will be in them for at least the next few months.

Image credit: Vicki Francis/Department for International Development

Units of the U.S. and United Kingdom militaries, among others, are in the area providing transportation and medical services. A whole slew of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are either on the ground, assembling relief supplies, or providing aid funds.

As Mary notes at Pacific Views:

Enough with the posturing and the fake outrage about the Cordoba House. It's time to live up to our better selves.
Here are a couple of organizations that are helping on the ground: Mercy Corp[s], Doctors without Borders. Please do something to help.

Time To Help

I couldn't have said it better. For international readers, the BBC has a list of websites that lead to various national and international organizations that are providing relief.

1 comment:

Expat said...

Thanks for links. Another million people displaced today according to Al Jazeera. This is larger than the Boxing Day Tsunami already and aid is only slowly being offered yet. If possible, find something to help.