Friday, December 31, 2004

"We are doing very little at the moment," said Jan Egeland, the UN's emergency relief coordinator. "It will take maybe 48 to 72 hours more to be able to respond to the tens of thousands of people who would like to have assistance today - or yesterday, rather.

"I believe the frustration will be growing in the days and the weeks ahead," he added. [from the Guardian]
The devastation in South East Asia has completely screwed my ability to think on a reasonable scale: I just cannot picture the range and scope of destruction, death and despair there at the moment. The numbers have, sadly, become meaningless to me and I'm dazzled by the death toll, the square metres, the height, width and length of destroyed land. After a comfortable and indulgent week of festivities both here in London and in Dorset, it's even harder to imagine what it must be like in that part of the world. Please, please, please go to the Disasters Emergency Committee website and give what you can; I'm proud to note that the UK has already donated more than it originally pledged, the amount is still going up (with some of your help, I hope).

I looked up a few links on aid and support for the disaster and came across a mind-bogglingly horrible article which I won't even link to because it made me so angry and incredulous to read it. It was basically a man with several degrees and some career experience in finance and business pleading with readers not to give any aid in cash. It was a waste of American tax-payers' money, apparently, as the money would get to the countries affected by the tsunami and there wouldn't be anything to spend it on once it got there - there are no crops, no clothes and no materials for shelter so, by his reckoning, the money would just go towards making the rich in the country even richer.

According to this odious writer, it was also unfeasible for the US to give money to the countries stricken in this natural disaster without demanding some sort of expense report - if aid really had to be given in cash, then it should only be given on display of a comprehensive list of receipts (which could be rejected or asked to be justified before any money was given over), the same way you have to submit receipts to reclaim expenses at work. Yes, even paraphrasing the article has made me angry and I may remove this as I would not like people visiting this blog and accidentally thinking these sick opinions are mine. Aid is aid - it is not a fucking expenses claim. Grrr.

I'm feeling rather hopeless at the moment - I have no medical skills, no experience in disaster relief, I haven't even been in any of these countries and have only the faintest grasp of the geography of the area (getting better as I read news coming in). If I had any useful skills to offer, I would be there now, but I can't think of how I could be useful at this South East Asian Ground Zero. Once the relief plans have come together and there is a clearer idea of what we can do over here, I shall do my best to do my best - because in a situation like this, what else is there to do?

There's no time for questions, for conspiracy theories, for celebrity endorsements - and if any fucking specially released music singles or videos come out in the next few weeks, I will scream until my face turns blue. There is simply no time for talking - it's all doing. Please do what you can for the hundreds of thousands of people in distress at the moment. It's going to be a long journey out of this dark time.

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