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Can You Say No To Angelina Jolie?
Posted by on August 17th, 2010

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd


Over six million people are affected by the flooding in Pakistan, a humanitarian disaster bigger than Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami or Haitian earthquake. But foreign aid is lagging.

With hundreds of villages marooned and highways and bridges cut in half by swollen rivers, food rations and access to clean water have only been provided to around 500,000 million flood survivors, the UN said.

The United Nations has warned that up to 3.5 million children could be in danger of contracting deadly diseases carried through contaminated water and insects in a crisis that has disrupted the lives of at least a tenth of Pakistan's 170 million people.

"We have a country which has endemic watery diarrhoea, endemic cholera, endemic upper respiratory infections and we have the conditions for much expanded problems," Unicef Regional Director for South Asia Daniel Toole told a news conference.

"We cannot spend pledges. We cannot buy purification tablets, we cannot support Pakistan with pledges. I urge the international community to urgently change pledges into checks."

Up to 1,600 people have been killed and two million made homeless in Pakistan's worst floods in decades. The United Nations has reported the first case of cholera, but only a quarter of the $459 million aid needed for initial relief has arrived.

Donor fatigue after so many other disasters, economic hardship at home, or apathy for the plight of a nation which seems to shelter terrorists and has leaders who always seems to have their hands out a-begging for money? It doesn't really matter. Those six million people are just poor folks – poorer than you, I'll guarantee – who want to see their children live, not die of dysentry, cholera and starvation.

It's nice to see individual humanitarian givers doing their bit. Like George Soros, bete noir of the nutcase right, who has stepped up with $5m for his Open Society Foundation in Pakistan.

In the immediate future, the $5 million will support emergency provisions like food, clean water, tents and shelter, medicine and medical supplies to people in flood-hit areas. The foundation also hopes to support reconstruction projects like restoring roads and bridges, repairing the electricity infrastructure, and rebuilding homes.

George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Foundations, earlier this month gave an initial relief gift of $50,000 to BRAC Pakistan, an anti-poverty group, to provide emergency relief services to people in the flooded regions. Given the unrelenting severity of the disaster, Mr. Soros, on the request of Pakistan office, decided to follow up with additional support of $5 million.

(Hey, wingnuts, where's Scaife?)

But the rest of us with lesser resources can do – need to do – something too. After all, you wouldn't want to say "no" to Angelina Jolie, would you?

Angelina Jolie says it's vital that people help Pakistan's flood victims and not surrender to compassion fatigue.

The floods have displaced 20 million people, but donations are below those for catastrophes like the Haitian earthquake or the Asian tsunami.

Jolie said she understood that "it is getting hard for people — they see Haiti, they see these other events … and they get exhausted by the time another big one rolls around."

But she said Pakistanis face "mass death, mass displacement, and this situation is going to get worse."

You can donate via Red Cross.

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