Above: An image of an area ravaged by the Pakistan floods. Image courtesy of Oxfam.
The Pakistan government has said that it needs $459million dollars for urgent assistance. As of today - nearly 3 weeks since the deadly deluge of rain on the country - less than a third of this aid has been supplied. Relief has been supplied painfully slowly, and the floods are clearly being underestimated by the world's leading governing bodies. The European Community Humanitarian aid Office (ECHO), responsible for Europe's disaster aid, has donated a paltry €10million (£8.2million) to the cause. Not only does this add up to just 50c-71c per person (41p-58p), it also pales in comparison to the €930million (£762million) donated to causes in 2009.
There's a lot of numbers there, but what is clear is that not enough is being done to support these fellow human beings in this horrific natural disaster. It is human nature, however, to forget previous crises once they have fallen out of the media spotlight. For that reason, I decided to take a look at some of the newer statistics from the Haiti earthquake from 2010, to see what life is like for them after the initial rush of sympathy.
My findings astounded me, and triggered me to write this. I looked into how international governments were supporting what is the poorest country in Western civilisation. In total, $5.3billion USD was pledged to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission - that's £3.4billion GBP. Of that, less than two percent has been delivered to the fund. In fact, only Brazil, Estonia, Australia, and Norway have given any money at all. The global powerhouse that is the United States of America, that pledged over $1billion, has not handed over a penny.
Now, I'm not going to claim that only four countries helped Haiti; many countries supplied food, soldiers, helicopters and the like. It is also likely that they donated the money through other means. To me, a country so devastated by a tragedy of this magnitude not receiving promised funds is a travesty of human nature.
It was at this point that the cynic came rushing out of me, perhaps coinciding with Tony Blair donating the proceeds from his book to the British Legion (something which, to me, is an easy way of getting out of saying sorry - but I digress). I asked myself: how much do we listen to what our government says, and how much of it is simply empty words? We are all far too quick to forget and our governments are all too keen to pick up on this and use it to their advantage.
The simplest way of getting aid to countries in need, such as Pakistan, is to do it yourself. Create a sponsored event, volunteer at places like a Red Cross charity shop, or even just do a good old fashioned round up of cash from colleagues, be you a student or an active worker. I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of this: I was part of a three-man team that helped to raise over £4,000 for the Haiti disaster.
This still leaves an underlying question. Why do we have to do this ourselves? With all that tax going to our government, why are they not giving the money they have supposedly set aside? For some, the reason might be something like the global economic crisis, or getting stuck in administration.
But for the cynic, the skeptic, the pessimist inside you, ask yourself: are we simply the victim of clever publicity stunts by the people that rule over us?