Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ramadan and Remembering Pakistan: Parts II, III, and IV: The Floods and Sociobiology; The Response; Katrina 5 Years On

An aerial view from a Pakistani army rescue helicopter shows personnel distributing water to flood-affected residents in Ghouspur, some 100 kilometers from Sukkur on on August 9, 2010. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Part II Genuine Aid or Sociobiology Experiment?

When I did my original post, I included pictures of Pakistanis reaching for aid supplies, but excluded those where there was clear fighting. I found the latter too disturbing, and thought they would detract from that post. However, as time goes on and the national and international responses continue to be less rapid and less adequate than desirable, it is starting to look as if the inadequacy of the aid in relation to the need is a sociobiology experiment, or as one Pakistani complained, supplies are thrown as if to dogs, while another lamented being forced to fight each other to obtain aid for their families.

There is no doubt that concerns about aid getting to the true needy, and not hijacked for profit by agencies, governments, locals, or bandits is a valid one. In the course of major international relief campaigns over the last decades this issue, along with human exploitation, trafficking, and dubious rescues of children have been all too real. There is also no doubt that the unusual circumstances of the physical terrain, and unrelenting rain in Pakistan continue to make delivering aid a particular challenge.

No land to stand: Aerial video of flood, Pakistan under water
[NB The intravenous lines in the infants for rehydration: "Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink" goes from poetic to life threatening as infants succomb to dehydration more easily and faster than children and adults do]

An aerial view, from a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter en route to delivering humanitarian assistance supplies, shows the flood-damaged countryside in Ghazi, Pakistan on August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Horace Murray/U.S. Army)

An aerial view from a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter shows a damaged bridge washed out by the floods in Ghazi, Pakistan August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Horace Murray/U.S. Army)

An aerial view of floodwater covering the land as far as the eye can see, around Taunsa near Multan, Pakistan, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

However, an insufficient response has also lead to scenes like this:

A Pakistan police officer use a baton to control flood affected people who are trying to loot donated food from a bus at a roadside in Azakhel near Nowshera, Pakistan on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

A Pakistani volunteer uses a small boat to evacuate locals in a flood-hit area of Nowshera on July 30, 2010. (A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)

The photos remain disturbing, but part of a human response to dramatic inequalities between supply and need. Sadly both the terms "sociobiology" and "survival of the fittest" come to mind. Even more sadly, some have used these photos to comment on the nature of Pakistanis. "Shame on those who have" comes to mind.

More often one sees photos like these:

A Pakistani volunteer uses a small boat to evacuate locals in a flood-hit area of Nowshera on July 30, 2010. (A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)

Residents help a man untie a chicken from his neck after he evacuated his flooded home with the fowl by swimming to higher grounds in Nowshera, Pakistan on August 1, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

Flood-affected people jostle for food relief in Nowshera in northwest Pakistan on Friday, Aug. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

Evacuees wade through a flooded area following heavy monsoon rains in Peshawar on Saturday, July 31, 2010. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Saeed Ahmad)

Residents evacuate to safety in a flood-hit area of Nowshera, Pakistan on July 30, 2010. (A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)

Flood victims line up to collect relief supplies from the Army in Nowshera, Pakistan on August 2, 2010. Islamist charities, some with suspected ties to militants, stepped in on Monday to provide aid for Pakistanis hit by the worst flooding in memory, piling pressure on a government criticized for its response to the disaster that has so far killed more than 1,000 people. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

All one can do, it seems to me, is spread the word, contribute within one's means, and pressure governments to make a major relief effort. And thinking of government spending, "Make Peace Not War" comes to mind.

Part III Improvements in Aid (Maybe)--Government Matching and Private Donations of Goods

Sheza Hasan (L) and Kulsum Khan, members of the Canadian Pakistani community work filling boxes with food in a warehouse near Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ont. August 25, 2010. Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

I was heartened to read this article, about the influx of aid in the form of food, and the offer of Pakistani Airlines to fly relief cargo for free--now overwhelmed by the response of the Canadian Pakistani community based in and near Toronto. The focus has been initially on food and water relief, though eventually clothes, household items, and medical supplies will become more pressing priorities. The Canadian government has offered, belatedly, to match donations through registered charities. Much aid already given through religious organizations will not be matched, but was a crucial response before others were engaged.

The image above accompanying the article reminded me of the efforts of South Asian medical students, to organize and send by air boxes of necessary supplies to victims of the 200? tsunami in South Asia. It also reminded me of a post Maha Noor Elahi did recently, Go Go, Jeddah Girls!!, on the charitable Ramadan food efforts for Saudis, organized by her students, and accomplished with her help, during a tiring by satisfying day of packing and lifting.

Aid organizations and international relief efforts, as well as those of the Pakistani and US governments are now more in evidence.

A woman displaced by floods in Pakistan carries her son at a health centre in Muzaffargarh on Aug. 21

Volunteers of the Falah-e-Insaniyat foundation, the charity wing of Pakistan's anti-American militant group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, run a relief camp for flood-affected people in Nowshera, northwest Pakistan on Aug. 9, 2010. U.S. army choppers flew up the formerly Taliban-controlled valley laden with flour, biscuits and water. They returned loaded with hungry Pakistani flood survivors. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

Pakistani volunteers unload sacks of flour provided by the U.S. government in Kalam in Pakistan's Swat valley on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

Pakistani villagers chase after relief supplies dropped from an army helicopter in a heavy flood-hit area of Mithan Kot, in central Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

Pakistani flood victim Mohammed Nawaz hangs onto a moving raft as he is rescued by the Pakistan Navy August 10, 2010 in Sukkur, Pakistan. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

A Pakistani flood survivor climbs onto an army rescue helicopter in Ghouspur, Pakistan on August 9, 2010. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

US Army Staff Sargent Matthew Kingsbury (right) from Bravo Company 2/3 Aviation and Pakistani soldiers sit on the cargo bay ramp of a CH-47 heavy-lift helicopter while looking down at a flooded area while in flight over Pakistan's Swat Valley on August 10, 2010. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

A soldier evacuating residents carries a flood victim to a helicopter in Sanawa, Pakistan's on August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer)

A Pakistani Army soldier rests between air rescue operations on August 9, 2010 in the Muzaffargarh district in Punjab, Pakistan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

A beautiful song, created by British composer/singer Sami Yusuf--known for his social activism, and organization of relief responses--is part of a charity drive through Save the Children:

'Hear Your Call' a charity single released by Sami Yusuf [also here]. All profits will go towards Save The Children's emergency relief efforts in Pakistan. Please help donate to the cause.
Support the cause here:
Also available on iTunes. Copyright of ETM International. All rights reserved.

[with thanks to Qusay of Qusay Today, who posted it]

Part IV The 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina--Any Comparison?

On August 29, 2005, the flood waters from Hurricane Katrina broke through the levees in New Orleans, and people waiting for rescue from rooftops became a common sight on news reports. Because houses and villages were washed away in Pakistan, in fact the photos below are rather rare:

A family takes refuge on top of a mosque while awaiting rescue from flood waters in Sanawa, a town located in the Muzaffar Ghar district of Pakistan's Punjab province on August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer)

A woman yells as her child is evacuated from the roof of a mosque where residents were taking refuge from flood waters in Sanawa, Pakistan on August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Photos like this are more common:

A man wades through flood waters towards a naval boat while evacuating his children in Sukkur, located in Pakistan's Sindh province August 8, 2010. (REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro)

A man marooned by flood waters, alongside his livestock, waves towards an Army helicopter for relief handouts in the Rajanpur district of Pakistan's Punjab province on August 9, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Pakistani flood survivors walk in the flooded area of Baseera village, 60 km south west of Multan, on August 10, 2010. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

Flood victims are rescued by boat in Baseera, a village located in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan's Punjab province on August 10, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer)

People wait to cross a flooded road in Bannu, northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Ijaz Mohammad)

It is hard to compare tragedies, and certainly for loved ones there is no apt comparison, but it seems hard to "top" this:

Villagers wade through flood waters with their livestock while looking for higher grounds in Sukkur, Pakistan on August 8, 2010. Pakistani navy boats sped across miles of flood waters on Sunday as the military took a lead role in rescuing survivors from a devastating disaster that has killed 1,600 people and left two million homeless. (REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro)

Responses were delayed in both disasters but for somewhat different reasons--though Presidential failings are a common theme. Still the US has a much better infrastructure and the poor are not so destitute to begin with. Also, they had international aid offers faster than George W Bush seemed to respond. Most of the coverage of the anniversary emphasized that there is great improvement, though still a ways to go, post Katrina. For one thing there is more transparency, about current rebuilding efforts, and past errors. Some places and sectors are renewed, though many are not.

5 years on, in August 2015, what will the lives of these 2 be like?

Newborn twin boys lay covered up in a blanket on the floor of a Pakistani Army helicopter, as mother Zada Perveen (unseen) rests after being rescued by Pakistan Army soldiers during air rescue operations on August 9, 2010 over the village of Sanawan in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan. Of the twin boys, un-named at the time, the first was born 15 minutes before mid-day and the other twin was born as the Army rescue helicopter was circling above to find a safe landing position on a road surrounded by flood waters. The mother was then carried on a makeshift bed through chest deep floodwaters to the awaiting Pakistani Army helicopter. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Or these?

Pakistan army soldiers pass a baby across a channel in the floodwater as they help people flee from their flooded village following heavy monsoon rains in Taunsa, Pakistan on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

Children, whose families have declined to be rescued, wade in rising flood waters on August 6, 2010 in the village of Panu Akil, near Sukkur, Pakistan. Rescue workers and armed forces continued rescue operations evacuating thousands in Pakistan's heartland province of Sindh. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Nadia, who does not know her age, sits alongside siblings after they were rescued from rising floodwaters in Baseera, a village located in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan's Punjab province, August 10, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

A young flood survivor cools herself with water at a makeshift camp in Nowshera, Pakistan on August 5, 2010. (FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

A girl floats her brother across flood waters while salvaging valuables from their flood ravaged home on August 7, 2010 in the village of Bux Seelro near Sukkur, Pakistan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

A Pakistani boy named Jeeshan stands outside his tent in a camp set up by the Pakistani army inside a college on the outskirts of Nowshera on August 2, 2010. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Youths affected by floods walk outside the ruins of their home which was washed away by heavy floods in Charsadda, northwest Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

A boy is flung back by the force of a Pakistan Air Force helicopter rotors as it drops water supplies to residents on August 2, 2010 in Nowshera, Pakistan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

A boy sits on a bed as his family members salvage belongings from their destroyed house in Pabbi, Pakistan on August 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood)

Nimra, a three-year-old girl, who was rescued along with her family from Kaalam in the northern area, kisses the window glass of an army helicopter after their arrival at Khuazakhela in Swat district located in Pakistan's northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province on August 1, 2010. (REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood)

Let's hope their prayers are answered.

Pakistani women pray at sunset by the Ravi river in Lahore on August 2, 2010. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

Ways to donate, contribute:

Spread the word via social networking sites, blogs, face to face
Share your prayers, and your zakat, if able
Contact your national website of UNESCO, International Red Cross/Crescent, Save the Children to find ways to contribute
Contact private but supervised donor sites like that of Sami Yusuf above
Write letters to the editor, and to government officials to express support for aid
Organize through your own school/workplace, religious group, or social/professional club
Donate time and energy to relief work, if able

A family portrait is seen, attached to a bookcase buried in mud on August 4, 2010 in Pabbi, Pakistan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Your comments, thoughts, impressions, suggestions?

Related Posts:
Ramadan and Remembering Pakistan: Life in the time of the cholera?
Ramadan and Remembering Pakistan: Part V Not sure what to do with your zakat?

*Images, except where indicated, are from: Severe Flooding in Pakistan; Continuing Pakistani Floods . More photos are available at the BBC, here.

1 comment:

Chiara said...

Arianna--I am sorry you didn't like this post. Fortunately someone else did. I was pleased to learned it had been tweeted by "Pakistan Journalism" as compiled by in association with

I do hope other readers have a good impression of the post, even though the topic is a difficult one.


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