International Disasters

Mar 052006
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Just over a month after Hurricane Katrina, disaster struck Kashmir.

The death toll from the Oct. 8 earthquake has reached 73,000. Many parts of Pakistan are still rebuilding after the majority of buildings were reduced to rubble in less than 15 seconds.

On December 26, 2004, a massive tsunami wave hit the coasts of Southeast Asia, India and the South Pacific islands. Flooding continues to prevent rebuilding and is a major public health concern. Over 220,000 people died, and more may be missing.

The United States has had its share of national disasters recently. Over 3,000 people died September 11, 2001, when hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

Another 1,300 are confirmed dead and at least 300 missing after category three Hurricane Katrina bombarded Mississippi and Louisiana.

The deaths on 9/11 and during Hurricane Katrina are worth no less than any other lives and require careful examination in order to prevent such needless deaths in the future.

However, as the self-proclaimed leaders of the free world, the U.S. government and public should take greater note of foreign disasters and more fully participate in aiding those nations in need.

The American public is too self absorbed to recognize disasters overseas. At Super Bowl XL, a moment of silence was observed for those killed in Hurricane Katrina. While the American loss is important and quite deserving of a moment of silence, 56 times the number of people died in Pakistan six weeks after Katrina, and they received no moment of silence at any similar event.

While our aid has increased in recent years, in part due to the AIDS relief plan President Bush has pushed, much more can still be done.

A case in point: while the United States is the top donor in dollar amounts to the United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF), giving almost $263 million, we are 17th in contributions per capita.

If only we were more like Norway, which is in first place for per capita contributions.

Some of the blame has to fall on the media that focus all too often on disasters close to home. On slow news days, 24-hour cable news might report on a humanitarian crisis abroad, but only once they've run out of national and political news.

As Americans and world citizens, we are in a unique position to help out countries and people in great need.

Though we toil to rebuild the homes of our neighbors in Louisiana, neighbors in Pakistan live on less than a dollar a day and in tents UNICEF has provided.

We are rich enough to put both in permanent homes, if only we are willing.

Ben Bleckley is a senior majoring in English. His column runs every Monday in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.