PHILANTHROPIC ACTS AS DISASTER HITS
SHABBIR H KAZMI
Oct 4 - 10, 2010
Two points became very clear during the recent devastating floods 1) the country does not have an appropriate disaster management program in place and 2) while the government was lackluster, many of the smaller entities were prompt in responding. No one can deny the fact that Pakistan Army also fully supported by other forces and masses undertook rescue operation in an organised manner. Some of the friendly countries sent helicopters to augment rescue and logistic support. On top of this, UN called moot for mobilising billion of dollars and also in-kind assistances. While no one still knows the exact quantum of damage caused to agriculture, roads and bridges, railways, power transmission and distribution and telecommunication, the deployment of aid is also slow. To meet the immediate requirement of funds, the government borrowed very heavily but the time has come to retire the debt as enough funds have poured in.
There are also complaints of lack of coordination among the federation and federating units. Some of the international organisations were also quick in responding but some of the critics doubted their motive and went to the extent of calling it 'serving the vested interest'. Now the country faces the mammoth job of rehabilitation of the displaced persons, revamping the damaged infrastructure and above all inculcating the spirit to turn the challenge into an opportunity.
Every one must keep Japan example in mind. Two of its cities were completely devastated when the US dropped atom bombs, and the signs of radiations are still evident but people of Japan made their country an economic giant. The country which dropped two atom bombs now meets many of its requirements from Japan.
The floods in Pakistan have reportedly affected more than 17 million people in Pakistan. Recognising the dire humanitarian situation in the key country to regional and international peace and stability, the government of Japan is actively taking part in international efforts to provide much needed assistance. On 31st August, helicopters of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) started their relief mission, based in Multan, Punjab and currently three UH-1 and one CH-47 helicopters were used. Two more CH-47 helicopters also join the mission to reinforce the capability.
This is the second time for the SDF to conduct a humanitarian relief mission in Pakistan. Following the earthquake in October 2005, the SDF sent six UH-1 helicopters for humanitarian relief. Since 1998, the SDF have been engaged in various humanitarian assistances by medical, airlift and seaborne supports. Their first deployment under the International Emergency Assistance Law was in response to the havoc wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
Prior to such missions, the SDF started to participate in UN peacekeeping missions in 1992, when military observers and engineering units were sent to the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). The SDF also currently participate in UN Disengagement Observer Forces (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). The most recent addition to their UN peacekeeping activities is that in Haiti, where an engineering unit participated in MINUSTAH this year.
As far as the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) medical team is concerned, on 9th September the government of Japan decided to dispatch the second medical team to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which has been hit by the flood disaster caused by the unprecedented heavy rain. The second JDR medical team will depart for Pakistan on 12th September. The second JDR medical team took over the duties from the first JDR medical team that remained engaged in medical relief activities in Punjab.
Other Japan's emergency assistance to the flood disaster in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan included 1) emergency grant assistance of US$13 million; 2) emergency relief goods valued $400,000 3) Assistance to Japan Platform (JPF) amounting $6 million; 4) dispatch of the Self-Defense Force (SDF) unit of the JDR Team; 5) dispatch of the Japan Disaster Relief Medical Team and 6) Dispatch of Japanese experts to the Damage and Needs Assessment (DNA) by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
The government of Japan handed over the basic medical equipments worth $93,848 to the Al-Mustafa Welfare Society, a non-governmental organisation under the scheme of the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). The handing over ceremony took place at the Al-Mustafa medical centre in Karachi, with the presence of Consul General of Japan Masaharu Sato. The medical equipments such as Diathermy, OT light, OT table, autoclave, ventilator, etc and gas generator were handed over to Ahmed Abdul Shakoor Munshi, the president of the Al-Mustafa Welfare Society.
Japanese government and the NGO agreed and signed on this carefully selected health sector development project on July 15, 2009, and since then both parties have made tremendous efforts to set up an additional operation theatre with the purpose to help more local people to access free and fine medical treatment.
The Consulate General of Japan, Karachi sincerely hopes that the above efforts will help upgrading of the living condition of the local people, and also wishes that this support from the people of Japan will strengthen the present amicable relationship between Pakistan and Japan. At the handing over ceremony, Masaharu Sato, Consul General said that the better implementation of this project will surely be a driving force for better medical treatment in Karachi, and that it will be inspiring to see the residents enjoy better standards of living.