|A recent BBC poll which took more than 30,000 votes in more than 25 countries came up with this list of the most important events of 2005...
It provides an indicator (though no more than that) of how messed up (some) people's priorities are.
I discount some of the issues in the poll. I discount the death of the pope because, although it is important for many catholics around the world, the death of an 85 year old man in poor health really does not come into the same category as the others.
The London and Bali bombings are symptoms of the same problem and whilst they were horrific I don't belive they were the most important thing in the world this year.
There is a case to be made for global warming being the biggest crisis we face but that is also in a different category. Avian Flu is in a "what might happen" rather than "what has happened" or "what is happening" category, so that is removed.
I want to have a look at the financial response to the three big natural disasters. I believe it shows just how out of step the world reaction is...
For the tsunami relief fund the worldwide total was around $12 billion. As well as the 200,000 to 250,000 deaths, around 1.5 million people were made homeless.
For the Pakistan earthquake total donations are around £5 billion so far (figures from Reuters). There are reportedly more than 73,000 dead but the worst is yet to come with up to 3 million made homeless and facing a brutal winter. This could get a lot worse. I have just noticed it is not in my opinion poll and I am ashamed at myself for leaving it out.
For New Orleans the total spend could be up to $200 billion. The people affected by the Hurricane will most likely not see much of this. A large corporate friendly redesign of New Orleans looks to be on the cards. Big companies will be getting big contracts and people will be getting the shitty end of the stick again. Whilst the hurricane disaster was horrible it comes nowhere near the scale of the other two. It also showed the either the ineptitude or sheer indifference of certain elements of the US government when it came to dealing with something like this.
Some groups claimed that the tsunami aid mainly went to the richest people.
Corporations grabbing for money anywhere they can get it is nothing new. The only people to come out of the Iraq war well are the major corporations and private security contractors (that we also saw running around in New Orleans).
The most major crisis right now is in Pakistan. This is where people will DEFINITELY die soon if nothing more is done. Why has the response to the situation in Pakistan been so muted?
Is it racism? Possibly. There were some vile letters in the UK press and people on radio explaining that although they had given money to the tsunami they did not want to give money to Pakistan in case they were inadvertently funding terrorism. As sickening as this nonsense was it surely couldn't have accounted for more than a few people.
Is it lack of government money? Yes and no. The UK government has given more (as a percentage) of the aid raised for Pakistan than it did for the tsunami.
I can only think that it is because people are not as aware of what is going on there as they were with the tsunami and with Hurricane Katrina. It just doesn't get the press coverage it needs. If you want to give some money to the relief fund then my friend from the area tells me that these are the better organisations...
Islamic relief - www.islamic-relief.com, The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust - www.shaukatkhanum.org.pk/donate.htm and the Edhi Welfare Trust www.edhi.gwat.net/
The hurt caused by these disasters will not be cured by money, but some of the wounds, starvation and homelessness can.