Not to bring you down from your holiday cheer, but today marks a year since the Indian Ocean earthquake, and resulting tsunami. Since then 2005 hasn’t exactly been disaster free now has it? There was Katrina in the USA, and more recently the earthquake in Indai/Pakistan.
I was watching The Big Bite on RTE recently, and they were discussing the different responses to these three tragedies. And one of the questions asked if race has an impact on how much aid we give. There were many, many tourists effected by the tsunami last year and the response was immediate and immense. But the earthquake it didn’t seem to get as much attention. Was that because we could identify more with the white tourists in Sri Lanka, Thailand etc than with the Muslims suffering in Pakistan?
I don’t really think that is the reason. Yes there more white, European people who suffered because of the tsunami, but I think a huge part of the reason we all reacted the way we did was because of the timing. The 26th of December sees most people sitting around at home, watching tv, not really doing all that much. And because the tourists had camera phones, camcorders etc we were able to see the tsunami. The media was able to broadcast pictures 24 hours a day.
With Pakistan the news just took longer to get out. It happened in a very hard to reach part of the world and there wasn’t really any immediate footage to be had, so it slipped from the news. And as it did so it slipped from our minds.
But according to John O’Shea of GOAL the charity organisations do now have enough money to begin work. It simply took longer than might have been hoped for. And of course there is the fact that Pakistan is a country that is poverty stricken and yet 40% of its annual budget goes to the military. The govt. there didn’t do enough at the outset.