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Quake relief should be at par with tsunami aid: Hillary
Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | November 29, 2005 13:17 IST
Senator Hillary Clinton on Monday called for an outpouring of collective global compassion for the victims of the recent earthquake of Pakistan that can be comparable to the aid and support provided to the victims of last year's tsunami in parts of South Asia.
Addressing a fund-raiser at the Asia Society in New York on Monday evening in aid of the victims of Pakistan's largest natural disaster, which is believed to have claimed over 100,000 lives so far and rendered many more homeless, Clinton said it was impossible not to recognize the continuing needs that existed in Pakistan in terms of relief and aid.
"Many of us have been a bewildered by the (inadequate) response to this horrible earthquake and I have found out why it might be that – we have not had the outpouring of support and awareness that we saw, for example, with the tsunami disaster," she said.
"I think that part of the reason is that extraordinarily isolated locations have been devastated. Many of them are faceless and nameless victims are not being profiled on television, and stories are not being told," Hillary said, adding, "So, people do not get a sense of who have been impacted and what the prospects are for them."
Over 250 people, mostly Pakistani-Americans but with a sprinkling of some high-profile Indian Americans who have substantially donated for the earthquake victims, attended the event organized by the International Rescue Committee. The Asia Society hosted the event.
Among those present at the event included Victor Menezes, former vice-chairman of Citigroup, Sonal Shah, vice-president of Goldman, Sachs & Company and co-founder of Indocorps, Dr Farooq Kathwari, chairman and CEO of Ethan Allan as well as noted New York painter Natvar Bhabsar.
Clinton said there was a very difficult set of conditions that one confronted but the IRC had been doing its best to bring aid and awareness that must be supported.
"Today, we are seeing the faces on this screen but we have not seen that in a sustained way that really humanizes the victims which seems to be very important in our own country and other places in terms of generating financing generosity that is required," Clinton said, alluding to the images of children and women victims of the devastating quake on a small screen mounted next to the podium.
"We know that unless groups like the IRC are there, either no help will be provided or the help provided would be inadequate because of the magnitude of the challenge faced by the Pakistani government," she said in her brief speech.
Clinton mentioned that her husband, former President Bill Clinton was in Sri Lanka on Monday night on route to Indonesia as part of his continuing work for the United Nations for the rebuilding of the tsunami-affected areas. She noted that a few weeks ago, the IRC had given an award to her husband and former President Bush.
"As my husband said at the IRC, we live in extraordinarily moment in history with the rise of democracy with the power of internet and with the emergence of NGOs like the IRC. Individuals have now the power to do good work to show their kindness and compassion as never before," she observed.
Clinton noted that 2005 was a year of horrible disasters, starting with the tsunami last year end, followed by Hurricane Katrina and Rita that claimed thousands of lives.
She said she had sent letters last week to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urging to them to assess what additional civilian and military resources, particularly medical and sanitation supplies were required.
"Many people, including children and women, will be sick and fear is many more will die by the winter (and) we need to do several things," she said.
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Clinton also mentioned how American help in times of disaster could help impact international relations. Today, Indonesia is one of the new Islamic countries which has a positive opinion about the US thanks to American help after the tsunami, she said.
"It began with the US military and civilian aid after Tsunami. We have an opportunity of making same sort of statement now," she said alluding to US help in Pakistan.
"I particularly thank the Pakistani and Indian American community for really leading the way and helping us to look at this and see it not just as an humanitarian opportunity but also a strategic opportunity that it can be," she added.
It was not immediately known how much funds the event helped raise for the quake victims, but there were indications it would run into several hundred thousand Dollars.
"I do not know as of now but it looks like the money raised this evening would be substantial," Munir Akram, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who was present at the fund-raiser, told rediff.com.