No help for the helpless in Pakistan

pakistan earthquake refugees
(REUTERS): Former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton unveiled on Wednesday a $90 million aid program for universities and other organizations shuttered by Hurricane Katrina three months ago.

Where have they been for the last two months?

Nearly 80,000 people have died as a result of the October 8, 2005 earthquake outside of Islamabad. Millions have been displaced, and as many are homeless and struggling to stay warm and fed, tens of thousands more may perish at the hands of the brutal Himalayan winter.

“Eighty per cent of the aid pledged for the tsunami (more than $4-billion) was given with two weeks,” according to an article first published in mid-November in the Globe and Mail titled “If we don’t help Pakistan, al-Qaeda’s friends will.”

Its estimated that the UN has received less than a third of the $312 million in aid it called for in mid-October.

Last month Ian Welsh made the call at BOPNews — and it is not too late:

[T]he area of Pakistan in question is an area where al-Q’aeda has often found refuge, and indeed, safety, with tribal fighers protecting them.

Which, may make you think that their trouble; their need; is an American opportunity. For a couple billion dollars, a huge aid operation could have been launched with the American flag all over the place.

Community Dispatch posted a call for grant proposals on State Dept. “letterhead,” but there is no mention of it on State.gov.

Announced on Dec. 6, and running for one month (no hurry here), 1 milllion dollars is available for an NGO to manage the UN operated Afghan refugee camps in the region. According to the release, 1/4 of the earthquake ravaged region’s nearly 900,000 Afghan refugees are in the “most damaged districts.”

Now, I’ll be optimistic and conclude, for now, that State has removed this posting because the grant has already been filled by a qualified and eager NGO. The more skeptical among us may be a bit leery of the disappearance of a call for proposals in less than 24 hours.

*UPDATE: the announcement is now live here at state.gov*

The White House announced the Katrina contribution from the Bush-Clinton fund one day after Katrina victims “unleashed their fury” on the empty ears of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina.

Pakistan needs that $90 million. I thought there was some $62 BILLION earmarked for the U.S. Gulf Coast. By mid-November, FEMA distributed nearly $4.5 billion in federal funds according to ReliefWeb. That’s over 4 THOUSAND million! I suspect much of this dinero must have fallen through the cracks for a measly $90 million to shake things up.

I recommend the PakQuake blog for in-depth perspective and calls for donations.

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