Monday, October 10, 2005

Finally, Shoulders to the Wheel.

After a tepid start, Canada is finally showing some resolve in coming to Pakistan's aid following Saturday's earthquake.

Apart from that, the news isn't getting much better: Initial estimates of 200,000 homeless appear to have underestimated by a factor of ten. It's looking more like 2.5 million homeless now. This is the worst disaster in Pakistan's history, and one of the most lethal earthquakes in history. Already, 20,000 people are believed to be dead.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Paul Martin took a drubbing for coming up with a mere $300,000 in relief aid. By Monday, Canada's contribution was boosted to $20 million. This is still only a beginning, and Canadian citizens are still needed to contribute on their own to the hard work underway in Pakistan. You can help through UNICEF by donating online here or World Vision Canada here or the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies here.

In a joint communique Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew, International Cooperation Minister Aileen Carroll and Defence Minister Bill Graham confirmed the $20 million relief package. In response to a specific request from the Government of Pakistan, part of the effort will go to the dispatch of Canadian Forces aircraft from Afghanistan with 21 tonnes of winterized blankets on board. Canada will also respond to appeals from the UN, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and also from Canadian non-governmental organizations, for immediate shelter, food, clothing, water and sanitation. Funds will also be committed to longer-term reconstruction.

There are a variety of Canadian NGOs weighing in. Here's a list of possibilities. To keep up to date on international relief efforts, Relief Web is a great source.


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