"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Monday, January 10, 2005

It's only been a year

The 6.5 on the Ricter scale was enough to devastate entire villages, nothing was left untainted, the damage is irreparable. Families who weren't destroyed, seperated or crushed completely were left homeless and inconsoleable. The public support was amazing, aid was donated on a massive scale. Governements fell over backwards in an effort to help the thousands of survivors in order to attempt to put their lives back togeather. Governments and foreign organisations have pledged well over a billion dollars in aid. Unprecedented generosity in a time when overseas expenditure seems bound by security issues and combating terrorism.

However I am not describing the recent catastrophic events in south east Asia, although I could easily use these same adjectives to accurately portray the carnage ravaged upon the those lands. There again, thousands of people, mostly poor, have been killed by nature's sheer strength. Although in both cases the damage caused could have been mitigated, for instance a sufficient warning system would have alerted large numbers of people and adequate housing would have provided more security to many who perished as their shanty style houses were swept away.

The reason I conjure up the images of the earthquake of Bam in Iran a year ago are not show similarities between the two disasters, but to alert people to the possibly empty rhetoric of many of the governments pledging monatary aid to the tsnamai victims. In the midst of last years disaster governments and private organisations pledged over $1.1 billion. An admirable sum, which gave hope to those who were in dire need of help, in preventing disease, starvation and building up the ruins that surrounded them. The truth behind the pledge, despite the impasssioned tones made by world leaders, was far less impressive. As it stands only $17.5 million has been sent.

Obviously rebuilding does not stand still on the immaterialisation of foreign aid. Therefore aid agencies have worked strenuously to provide support for those effected by the earthquake and have tried to bring some sort of normality back to their lives. Still, today, unfortunately some of these people still live in tents. Aid agencies would still welcome donations today. The Red Cross warns that "Bam may no longer be in the international spotlight but suffering continues." The difference the pledged aid would have and still could make is obvious.

The important thing for the citizens of western countries is to make it their obligation to insure that every penny pledged by their government is sent and that it is put into the hands of those that need it most. While politcians around the world bask in the warm glow of public admiration for a good deed done. It is essenstial that this disaster is not forgotten in a similar manner to that of Bam