Thursday, October 20, 2005

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Quake 'is UN's worst nightmare'

Get the story here.

The UN says the shortfall in aid for victims of the South Asian quake has made the relief situation worse than after last December's tsunami.

UN emergency relief chief, Jan Egeland, said the organisation had never seen such a "logistical nightmare".

Earlier Secretary General Kofi Annan warned of a second wave of deaths unless more aid was sent immediately.

Pakistan says more than 47,000 people died in areas under its control in the 8 October earthquake.

Local officials put casualties far higher, and the number is expected to rise. At least 1,400 others died in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials say.

Mr Egeland said of the aid sent so far: "This is not enough. We have never had this kind of logistical nightmare ever. We thought the tsunami was the worst we could get. This is worse."

The tsunami, which struck on 26 December, killed more than 200,000 people around the Indian Ocean.

Mr Annan called for the global relief effort to be stepped up to help three million people made homeless by the quake.

He said the international community had only given firm commitments to fund 12% - or $37m - of the UN's appeal.

Mr Annan said it was now a race against time to save the lives of those in the areas of Pakistan worst affected by the earthquake.

He warned that tens of thousands of people in remote areas had received no relief, while some three million people were facing the fierce Himalayan winter with no shelter or blankets.

"That means a second, massive wave of death will happen if we do not step up our efforts now," he said.

Mr Annan said that in the most affected areas hospitals, schools, water systems and roads had all been destroyed, and that the difficult terrain made it one of the most challenging relief operations ever undertaken.

Mr Annan urged major donors and international bodies such as Nato to mount "an immediate and exceptional escalation of the global relief effort".

He also called upon top international representatives to attend a UN-sponsored donors conference in Geneva, Switzerland, next week.

"I expect results," he said. "I urge governments and other organisations to attend at the highest level."

Mr Annan's chief aid co-ordinator in Islamabad, Andrew McLeod, told the BBC the world had failed to understand the severity of the situation.

"We have one of the best organised relief operations going here, and we are just not getting the funding. If the second wave of deaths hit, it's the major donors that are going to have to look at themselves in the mirror and ask why."
The limp response by the international community could indicate that the UN has begun to lose credibility when it comes to managing relief efforts. The citizens of nations that contribute demand results. Unfortunately, dysfunctional governments of disaster-affected nations, and long-time corruption within the UN bureacracy, often prevent aid from flowing to those most in need of it. Sooner or later, people will say, "enough!"

Pakistan may regretably pay for the sins of far too many others. Please support them any way you can; if you honestly can't give--and considering the Katrina aid many of us anted up, it's no wonder if you can't--then storm heaven with your prayers. The innocent in Pakistan should not have to pay for the guilty in the UN and around the world.