Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wonder why France hasn't still extended aid to the quake victims...

Rich world 'failing' on quake aid

Many of the world's richest countries have so far failed to support a UN appeal for victims of the South Asian quake, a top UK-based charity has said. The charity, Oxfam, said less than 30% of the $312m (£175m) sought by UN aid agencies had even been promised.

It said the US, Japan, Germany and Italy had given less than their "fair share" and others nothing at all. Meanwhile, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said the financial cost of the quake will be more than $5bn.

In an interview with London's Financial Times, he defended his handling of the country's worst natural disaster, saying the government "had done a good, if not a very good, job".

But he acknowledged that hardline Islamic groups had stepped into an administrative vacuum in the days after the quake, providing relief and humanitarian assistance in Kashmir, a development that analysts say will bolster their legitimacy.

The criticism from Oxfam comes as donor nations meet in Geneva on Wednesday to try to increase funding for the quake appeal. Pakistan estimates the 8 October earthquake killed more than 53,000 people, most of them in the portion of Kashmir it administers.

Some 1,400 people died in Indian-controlled Kashmir, officials say. On the ground, aid officials are warning that more people could die of hunger, cold and injuries than were killed by the earthquake itself.

UN chief aid co-ordinator Rashid Khaliko said the coming winter would cut off many remote communities in the region. He told reporters in the devastated Kashmiri city of Muzzafarabad that relief workers had until the end of November to get hundreds of thousands of people under shelter, treat the injured and provide food stocks to last the harsh winter.

"The disaster is looming large," Mr Khaliko said. "We have thousands and thousands of very vulnerable people. "What these communities will have by 1 December is what they will have to live with. It's not much time. We basically have four weeks to deliver."

Oxfam's Policy Director Phil Bloomer said: "The logistical nightmare in Pakistan is bad enough without having to worry about funding shortfalls as well. "Governments meeting in Geneva... must put their hands in their pockets and pay their fair share. The public will be shocked that so many rich governments have given so little," he said.

Oxfam said that the US, Japan, Germany and Italy have given much less then they could have done according to the size of their economies. It also said seven rich nations - Belgium, France, Austria, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain - had so far donated nothing at all.

The charity warned that the gap between an emergency appeal being announced and funds actually being received could mean the difference between life and death for many thousands of survivors.

Only about 20% of the money requested in the appeal has actually been given, UN relief agencies estimate. Oxfam also said current UN plans for a special Global Emergency Fund was seriously underfunded. The new $1bn (£561m) fund was approved by world leaders in September. It is supposed to act as a central UN pot of money, which can be handed out in emergencies. But so far that too had failed to attract a fifth of the funding it needed, Oxfam said.


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