Why have we abandoned the people of Pakistan?
ActionAid, Plan Australia and Save the Children have joined forces in a national newspaper advertisment campaign today to raise the profile of the Pakistan flood disaster. But it’s not your money that they’re after.
All three charities have come together in response to what they’ve described as a dire “lack” of media coverage of the emergency situation and are rallying their efforts to bring our attention to the situation at hand.
So what exactly is going on in Pakistan?
The United Nations estimate 15 million people have been affected by the floods that hit the country and submerged entire villages approximately three weeks ago.
“This is bigger than Haiti, Kashmir and the tsunami combined in terms of humanitarian need. And while the death toll is small by comparison, the need is large,” said Mark Chenery, spokesperson for ActionAid Australia.
Six million people are currently dependant on aid for survival and this situation is not expected to improve for at least another six months.
Houses and roads have been ruined and farmland has been completely wiped out, leaving the poorest of the poor with no means for survival.
Disease is also an issue. Diarrhoea is already very common and cholera is becoming a threat that’s expected to spread in the overcrowded conditions.
And these are just issues plaguing the short term. Chenery says in order to ensure the country’s full recovery of the it’s imperative the world’s attention stays on Pakistan.
“It is an area prone to conflict and without a stable government. After the immediate response to the disaster there will be a rush of aid and development projects. We need to make sure these are done with community consultation and with the interests of the poor,” he said.
In the meantime, the day to day problems in Pakistan loom large.
Archie Law, ActionAid Australia’s CEO told Fran Kelly’s ABC breakfast program this morning that the relief effort as “struggling” and the situation on the ground as “simply too big a task for any one agency” to solve.
And while the Australian government has pledged a “generous” $35 million to the cause already, more needs to be done to raise public awareness of the issues.
Law urges people to look beyond Pakistan’s “public image”, “terrorism links” and “security situation” and see the “humanitarian and civilian issues” at the heart of this desperate situation.
“Normal people [have been badly affected by this disaster] that’s mums, dads and children and they need a lot of help. And I think that transcends any political issue,” he said.
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