Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AID; Spend It Wisely

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AID; Spend It Wisely

Article excerpt

There are few images more wrenching than the one of a mother grieving over the body of her limp, lifeless child.

Such images are all of the sudden everywhere, as the deaths from Sunday's deadly tsunami are calculated and recalculated. So many lost, perhaps a third of the dead, were children.

Each death is a tragedy of untold proportions for family survivors, many of whom have lost multiple family members and who are now homeless.

Earthquakes and tsunamis, and their resultant deaths, are not all that uncommon in geological time. What is different now is that, with more people living in seismic areas than ever before, the human cost is dramatically higher. And with video and satellite technology, the transmitting of the tragedy in "real time" around the world is unprecedented. We see horrific events on television that are just minutes old, bodies that are barely cold.

These visual records tug harder at our heartstrings than unseen, unrecorded earthquakes that crush entire villages in China, Turkey or somewhere deep in Eurasia every few years.

The U.S. response has been swift. USAID has pledged an initial $15 million to help in rescue and recovery efforts, and other U.S. agencies have already sent aid and are mobilizing to send more.

Also swift was a snide remark from the United Nations undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, who said the U.S. response was "stingy."

It is not so much that Jan Egeland was wrong -- U.S. aid will no doubt represent the largest relief effort in human history and will continue for years in that region. It is the revealing nature of the comment that reminds Americans no matter how much aid they send, they will always be faulted for not doing enough.

All across this nation, people and groups are mobilizing to help, and poised on tarmacs across Asia are cargo planes of aid, waiting for permission to land in affected countries. …

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