August 17, 2010; Source: New York Times | So far donations to aid victims of flooding in Pakistan are a mere trickle compared to responses to recent disasters. With millions of Pakistanis displaced because of flooding, and aid needs rising daily, the United Nations this week put out a call for governments and individuals to step up donations.
Relief officials say the lackluster response stems from the fact that people don’t appear to equate devastation from flooding as they do earthquakes. As the New York Times notes, “Images of people slogging through water did not generate the same kind of sympathy as a leveled city, even though the dimensions are similar.” The problem is also blamed on spotty media coverage, a relatively small number of deaths compared to other disasters, donor fatigue from past disasters, as well as the fact August is vacation time for many.
Still, John Holmes, humanitarian coordinator for the UN said, “What is clear is that we need a lot more and we need it quickly.” The International Rescue Committee is having a tough time getting donors to give. So far it has only raised $1.18 million of its $5 million goal, of which about $700,000 is coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organization’s president said online donations are down, too, compared to previous appeals. Hope springs eternal, though, and perhaps an appeal from Angela Jolie will help. Speaking at a London premiere for her movie, “Salt,” Jolie urged people to give to Pakistan, saying the money is needed to help the “millions and millions of people who will be uprooted for a very long time.”—Bruce Trachtenberg