Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Natural disaster politics

First things first - a list of donation options from my friend Asif:

Oxfam http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what_you_can_do/give_to_oxfam/donate/asian_quake.htm

Kashmir International Relief Fund http://www.kirf.org/


Muslim Aid http://www.muslimaid.org/subpages.php?section=donations&sub=donateonline&down=yes

Save the Children https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/scuk_secure/jsp/getinvolved/choosedonation.jsp?fundCode=A50NNXJ0Q

Muslim Hands http://www.muslimhands.org/Site/Pages/Home

Plan UK http://www.plan-uk.org/

British Red Cross http://www.redcross.org.uk//standard.asp?id=49880&cachefixer=

Concern http://www.concern.net/pressroom/pressroom.ds2?news_id=504

2 quick thoughts. There is a well observed link between earthquakes and social movement politics. In both the Mexico City (1985) and Iran (1978) earthquakes, government relief responses were slow and social movements quickly stepped into the breach. In both cases, the earthquake was, in hindsight, credited with triggering a mobilisation and revitalisation of civil society in a way that was to have lasting effects beyond the relief phase. In Iran, many of the same groups and networks that participated actively in the relief effort would go on to play a prominent role in the Revolution. Obviously one wants appropriate relief, wherever it is coming from, to reach the people who need it. But it will also be important to see who provides it and how doing so shores up the legitimacy of some actors vis-a-vis others.

The second thing is the much-talked about possibility of a peace dividend. Again, thinking about this too much at this stage is premature and, possibly, in bad taste, given that there are other pressing priorities. Nevertheless, the tragedy has demonstrated - if at all that were needed - that natural disasters know no boundaries. There have already been encouraging and generous statements from both sides (for all the damage on its side, a Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson went on record saying: 'We remain willing to help Indians if we are needed for any kind of assistance, like the Indians offered us.'), although the location of the worst damage in PoK/Azad Kashmir makes the possibility of Indian relief efforts there unlikely - it would be one of those tragic ironies. Nevertheless, we have seen natural disasters have a decisive impact on conflict - in Banda Aceh post-tsunami, GAM rebels and the Indonesian government agreed to quite significant levels of cooperation to facilitate the relief efforts; in Sri Lanka, there was much encouraging rhetoric in this direction, but the LTTE reportedly began interfering with aid flows depending on whether they were destined for its areas or government-controlled territory (sorry that's vague, but I can't find the link I'm looking for).

http://www.CrisisSearch.com is a disaster related portal I created after the Katrina hurricane (in hopes to help). Please submit diaster related websites or post ideas on recovery or crisis preparation on the blog. Covering crisises from natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc) to terrorism (man made disaster and even war mongering).
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