UN: U.S., others 'stingy' on relief aid

Xtremehkr

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations' emergency relief head called the tsunamis that devastated large parts of southern Asia "unprecedented," and warned Monday that it may be weeks before the full effects are known.

The tsunamis were "not the biggest in recorded history, but the effects may be the biggest ever because many more people live in exposed areas than ever before," said Jan Egeland, undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief.

With tens of thousands dead, many missing and millions displaced, still more serious problems lie ahead, Egeland said, including widespread illnesses. And it could take years to rebuild places that were wiped out, he said.

"A lot of airplanes are already being loaded. Some are already airborne and going to the hardest-hit countries, like Sri Lanka," he said Monday afternoon, adding that experts had already arrived in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. (Full story)

"An enormous relief effort is on its way."

The United Nations has been unable to reach some of its staff in affected areas, including people in Sumatra and Aceh, Egeland said. "When we do not hear from them we are afraid of what has happened."

In a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York, Egeland called for a major international response -- and went so far as to call the U.S. government and others "stingy" on foreign aid in general.

"If, actually, the foreign assistance of many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2 percent of the gross national income, I think that is stingy, really," he said. "I don't think that is very generous."

The U.S. government expects to spend $15 million in its initial response to the disaster, the State Department said Monday. The United States' overall foreign aid commitment is around 0.2 percent of its gross national product. (Full story)

The Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress, in an April report to lawmakers, said total foreign assistance -- excluding the costs of reconstruction in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion -- was larger in the 2003 and 2004 budgets than in any two-year period since the mid-1980s.

"The 0.2 percent of U.S. gross national product represented by foreign aid obligations the past two years, however, is among the smallest amounts in the last half-century. The United States is the largest international economic aid donor in dollar terms but is the smallest contributor among the major donor governments when calculated as a percent of gross national income," said the report, which is posted on the U.S. State Department's Web site.

Egeland said that in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, politicians 'believe that they are burdening the taxpayers too much and that the taxpayers want to give less. That's not true. They want to give more."

At a White House briefing Monday in Crawford, Texas, CNN asked spokesman Trent Duffy about the "stingy" remark. He said he thinks the United States is "the largest contributor to international relief and aid efforts not only through the government, but through charitable organizations. The American people are very giving, so we'll continue to be that and we'll be a leading partner in this effort that lies ahead."

Egeland, at the U.N. news conference, said the cost of the devastation will "probably be many billions of dollars. However, we cannot fathom the cost of these poor societies and the nameless fishermen and fishing villages that have just been wiped out."

Most of those who lost their livelihoods have no financial reserves, he said.

"I think an unprecedented disaster like this one should lead to unprecedented generosity from countries, that should be new and additional funds."

Egeland complained that international responses in the wake of major disasters are often overestimated.

"We need rich countries, rich individuals, even only those of us who are reasonably affluent to respond generously. Here we are facing people who have lost everything. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost everything. Millions of people are now living in the worst possible hazards of having polluted drinking water, no sanitation, no health services," he said, adding that the conditions are sure to lead to disease.

"The important thing is that we give and that we as citizens also demand that our countries give generously to those who have been so hard hit."

The region had no warning system for tsunamis. Egeland said he had spoken with leaders in the region about preparing for natural disaster, but those talks focused on hurricanes. (Full story)

Asked whether one must be built, he said, "I think, indeed, it must happen."

"The problem with the tsunami is that it takes hours or minutes for this wall of water to come, and there's just very, very little time," he said.

The tsunamis were triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, and Egeland said the quake struck less than an hour before Sumatra was hit by the waves. (Explainer: Tsunami and earthquake facts)

"This is something we have to look into," he said. "I think it would be a massive undertaking to actually have a full-fledged tsunami warning system that would really be effective in many of these places."
I bet the President is praying for them though.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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$15 million!?!?! what a friggin' insult.

this is like 10 x 9/11, and look what we've spent in the name of that day.
 

zimv20

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speaking of which, can anyone find any data on how much foreign aid came into the US in the aftermath of 9/11?
 

Thanatoast

macrumors 65816
Dec 3, 2002
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.2% of GNP works out to around 20 billion dollars, right? What's that percentage of the federal budget?

A question: would we get more and better response from the world at large spending at least as much money on building/rebuilding infrastructure and providing foreign aid as we spent on weapons to "defend" ourselves from the world at large?

This is an obviously loaded question, but one that needs to be asked. I think we have our priorities backwards. We (by we I mean "the administration") sit and wonder how many nasty ways other people can hurt us rather than asking how we can help others.

Perhaps if we gave more in charity than we subsidized in weapons programs, the world would be a better place. :(

: patiently waits for liberal "head in the clouds" responses :
 

amnesiac1984

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2002
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I really hope that such a humanitarian disaster as this one gives all the war mongerer's a good kick in the teeth. We may never be able to get away from the fear in our societies but if we direct it away from each other and learn just to fear the power of nature then I think a lot of things will change.

Is this event a catalyst for social change? Probably not but its way too soon to tell. Or maybe its a sign that we are getting closer to 2012 :eek: (another thread entirely).
 

Xtremehkr

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mactastic said:
Didn't we refuse a bunch of the aid offered to us though?
Yeah, I seem to remember that we turned down aid from certain countries. Cuba and Iran come to mind.
 

solvs

macrumors 603
Jun 25, 2002
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It's kinda like when Bill Gates gives a couple of million to some charity - you want to appreciate the effort, but then you know where the rest of the money goes (and especially where it came from). Somehow it doesn't seem to be enough. It's good they gave something, but somehow it seems more like a slap in the face. We've spent billions rebuilding places we've invaded, and we spent $60 million to spread Democracy in the Ukraine (though, to be fair, at least that seems to be working out in our favor now). Your tax dollars at work people. Hopefully the people of the world can make up for the Governments' stingy-ness.
 

mactastic

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Apr 24, 2003
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Cost for inaugural:
The estimated budget for the event is $30-40 million, but that will not cover security costs.
$15 million for disaster victims, $30-$40 million for the inaugural PLUS security costs. Interesting juxtaposition.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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to be fair, the US did up its aid to $35 million today. total worldwide aid pledged: $105 million. damage estimates are in the billions of dollars.

(data from World News Tonight, which i just finished watching)

imo, the US should have set the pace by pledging $100 million off the bat.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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amazing! in the wake of the biggest humanitarian relief effort known to man, stu manages to fault the UN.

absent the UN, how much worse off would those south asian nations be right now, i wonder.

the US can do no wrong, and the UN can do no right. black and white indeed, stu. i'm starting to wonder why you're not on my ignore list. you were much nicer before xmas.
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2004
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mactastic said:
We can't believe that article Stu. It's well known that Yahoo is a biased source.
If you want to call yahoo the source that's fine, the rest of the world will call the source Reuters.

Ahh literacy! :)
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2004
2,702
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zimv20 said:
amazing! in the wake of the biggest humanitarian relief effort known to man, stu manages to fault the UN.

absent the UN, how much worse off would those south asian nations be right now, i wonder.

the US can do no wrong, and the UN can do no right. black and white indeed, stu. i'm starting to wonder why you're not on my ignore list. you were much nicer before xmas.
Boy did you get the "jump to conclusions" game they talked about in the movie office space?
I faulted the UN? How because I posted the story where they backed off the comment X posted? Comeon now, be fair.
Also the UN was not going after any one country, but many, the guy who made those remarks is on Larry King right now-I'm watching. Turn it on.
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2004
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Humanitarian Food Aid


The United States is the world's leading provider of food aid to the UN's World Food Program (WFP), contributing 51.4% of its budget -- about $929 million -- in 2002. In the first 5 months of 2003, the United States provided $794 million to the WFP. The United States has led food assistance efforts in the Horn of Africa, providing more than 50% of total contributions. Since August 2002, it has contributed more than 1 million metric tons of food aid to Ethiopia and 158,000 metric tons to Eritrea.
link

There have been cuts this year due to Afganistan and Iraq costs, but Congress did budget $1.2 billion on FOOD aid for 2005. It is less than what the world needs, but many of the other stingy countries can maybe help more.

Because it is better to teach someone to fish than buy them one..
Initiative to End Hunger in Africa


In 2002, the United States began a new effort to fight world hunger by increasing agricultural productivity. The Initiative to End Hunger in Africa (IEHA) will provide increased funding to raise agricultural production and reduce poverty. The strategy is intended to empower African farmers in key countries and regions by increasing access to new technologies and markets. The United States increased 2003 funding by 25% to implement IEHA. The goal is to double production of the basic food crops that make up African diets and to increase family incomes.
I am confident that as the picture developes the US will continue to UP the donations. Of course there is a link in my signature to make a contribution now!
 

dotnina

macrumors 6502a
Aug 19, 2004
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stubeeef said:
There have been cuts this year due to Afganistan and Iraq costs, but Congress did budget $1.2 billion on FOOD aid for 2005. It is less than what the world needs, but many of the other stingy countries can maybe help more.
Stu -- This is emergency aid we're talking about. I don't understand how your quote about "teaching a man to fish" pertains to this situation -- I hope you were just going off topic there? How are we "handing a fish" to anyone by offering emergency aid for one of the worst natural disasters in modern history?

And what do you mean, you believe the US will increase aid money "as the picture develops?" To me, 55,000 dead is a quite developed picture. The numbers will go higher, no doubt -- but I don't see how you feel the paltry monies currently put forth by the US atone for the kind of tragedy that's going on right now.
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2004
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dotnina said:
Stu -- This is emergency aid we're talking about. I don't understand how your quote about "teaching a man to fish" pertains to this situation -- I hope you were just going off topic there? How are we "handing a fish" to anyone by offering emergency aid for one of the worst natural disasters in modern history?

And what do you mean, you believe the US will increase aid money "as the picture develops?" To me, 55,000 dead is a quite developed picture. The numbers will go higher, no doubt -- but I don't see how you feel the paltry monies currently put forth by the US atone for the kind of tragedy that's going on right now.
No, I understand the urgent need for $$$$$ now. I was addressing the historical giving of the US. While the article mentioned the US by name, the UN official did not. He was refering to the majority of nations that give between .1 and .2 % of GDP, and the US is one of those.

But you are correct, they need $$$$$ now, and even more they need expertise from countries all over the world.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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about those US aid numbers...
Among the world's two dozen wealthiest countries, the United States often is among the lowest in donors per capita for official development assistance worldwide, even though the totals are larger. According to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development of 30 wealthy nations, the United States gives the least -- at 0.14 percent of its gross national product, compared with Norway, which gives the most at 0.92 percent.
link
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
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zimv20 said:
amazing! in the wake of the biggest humanitarian relief effort known to man, stu manages to fault the UN.

absent the UN, how much worse off would those south asian nations be right now, i wonder.

the US can do no wrong, and the UN can do no right. black and white indeed, stu. i'm starting to wonder why you're not on my ignore list. you were much nicer before xmas.
He would fault his mother if she disagreed with him.

Maybe Santa turned into the Grinch?

He's been on mine for weeks now.


Why is it that the majority of those who make gross errors in spelling and grammar on this forum are almost always right wingers?
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
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Penryn
dotnina said:
I don't understand how your quote about "teaching a man to fish" pertains to this situation -- I hope you were just going off topic there? How are we "handing a fish" to anyone by offering emergency aid for one of the worst natural disasters in modern history?

And what do you mean, you believe the US will increase aid money "as the picture develops?" To me, 55,000 dead is a quite developed picture. The numbers will go higher, no doubt -- but I don't see how you feel the paltry monies currently put forth by the US atone for the kind of tragedy that's going on right now.
Don't there have to be fish to catch in order to make a fishing line worthwhile? I haven't heard yet, but I'll bet there's darned few fish left in those areas.

I think stu's way of thinking is in line with gw's compassionate conservatism. Compassion is only shown conservatively if at all.
 

Dont Hurt Me

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Dec 21, 2002
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I just have to say 1 thing people, the U.S is the biggest donator,giver,supporter in the world and if you look at our history we have written off the debts of many countries through the years. Now with that said it is sad that we spend billions on defense and then a small percentage on building a better world abroad and at home.