10 October 2005

South Asia Quake

I find it difficult to find a way to express how disturbed I am by the news and pictures coming out of the earthquake zone in India and Pakistan. Terrible, just terrible. In particular I am having difficulty reconciling the discrepancy between how much coverage (some, but by no means overwhelming amounts) this tragedy on an enormous scale is receiving, when compared with the wall-to-wall coverage of recent disasters on a much, much smaller scale which have struck Western countries such as the US and the UK. It disturbs me how much less "Eastern" lives seem to be worth to us here in the West. Personally, I don't see it like that.

To that end, I would ask you to seriously consider donating what you can to a charity or NGO that is helping with the rescue mission. There are dozens to choose from. I know that after the Bam earthquake, the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, many people have given what they can already and others are suffering from "charity fatigue", but please give some thought to whether or not you can spare just a little bit more for the millions of victims of this earthquake who have been left homeless or lost loved ones.

We know all too painfully from previous disaster experience, that although governments around the world make grand, headline-grabbing pledges many then, once the media spotlight has faded, fail to follow through on their promises. Not so with personal pledges. Though much more modest in size, these are transferred directly and immediately to the relevant organisation to be put to good use without delay. Please give what you can.

Here are some websites of worthy charities helping out in the region to get you started, in no particular order of preference:

Unicef (United Nations Children's Fund)
UN World Food Programme
KIRF (Kashmir International Relief Fund)
Red Cross and Red Crescent

Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders)
Save the Children Fund

(In most cases I've provided links to the UK websites of these organisations. If you're not in the UK, you can easily find the relevant country link on each website, usually in the top title bar somewhere).

Of course, there are many other worthy organisations urgently seeking donations. The Quakehelp blog I linked to yesterday has links to lots more, as well as information for anyone looking for loved ones or friends who they think might have been caught up in the earthquake.

Once more for good measure: please give as generously as you can. There are millions of Pakistanis and Indians who need your help urgently.

(Meanwhile, here in Germany, we finally have a chancellor-designate, and it's a woman! Angela Merkel, the CDU/CSU's Chancellor candidate will lead a so-called grand coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD. Centre-right meets centre-left. More analysis on this big, and long overdue news tomorrow.)