February 26, 2005

Has the Tsunami appeal cut other charities short?

Writing about web page http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,18690-1485102,00.html

This article deals with the delicate issue of whether the huge support that the British public has given to the victims of the Asian Tsunami will mean that other longstanding charities will suffer.
'James Morris, the agency’s executive director, said: “The challenge we now face is to ensure that a tsunami effect does not ripple across Africa, drawing funds away from humanitarian operations there and adding Sudanese, Angolan and Liberian victims to its toll.” '
It does however go on to discuss whether this mass outporing of donations will simply deprive other charities or whether it will in fact make the public more aware of the plights of 'the impoverished' and increase their overall giving permenantely.
This article raises the question of whether our generous givings to the Tsunami appeal may have seriosly injured domestic charities, such as the RNLI, which is totally dependant on donations for its survival.
However, the message is optimistic, for while many charities' income has dropped, many people have given to charity for the first time, and perhaps will to continue to do so.

Earthquake in Iran

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,1419964,00.html

This article on the Iranian earthquake in The Guardian is very factual
and straightforward, simply describing the events without comenting on any of the politics of the situation.
However, it is very clear from what the article describes that a large proportion of the deaths and casualities caused by this earthquake, and others in Iran, are due to the poor quality of housing, which collapses easily. The lack of infrastructure also hugely hampers rescue attempts. Considering that the earthquake was 6.4 on the Richter scale, the devestation and chaos it has caused, destroying whole villages and filling hospitals, is disproportionately high.

January 29, 2005

La Prisonniere

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This book is an amazing account of how Malika Oufkir, daughter of General Oufkir who was shot for an attempted coup d'etat, was imprisoned with her family for 20 years. It's fascinating to see the changes that this family went through and how they adapted, going from an incredibly priviledged life to an almost beastail existence in inhumane jails.
It is aslo bizarre to read Malika's descriptions of the Moroccan royal family and ruling elites among whom she was raised, which seem trapped in a time warp. From her early chidhood Malika experienced a lifestyle utterly irreconcileable with the wild 1950's and 60's that Britain and the US were living through.
Most startlling were Malika's experiences when some of them managed to escape; Morocco had modernised along with the rest of the world and they had been almost completely forgotten. It leaves you questionning how many other people are imprisoned unjustly that we have no idea about.
This book also serves a good reminder that when we consider the past in one place it does mean that everywhere was like that, for while Britain was enjoying the swinging sixties Morocco's upper classes were stuck in an archaic system of concubines and deceit, where any dissenters were 'got rid of'.

Could many of the Tsunami deaths have been prevented?

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1380712,00.html

While the majority of Britain's newspapers focussed on the massive death toll and individual horror stories this article in The Guardian stops to ask if those deaths were avoidable. It questions whether an early warning system could have in fact prevented the overwhelming majority of the deaths.

Although countries around the world are now jumping to offer aid, in what the more synical of us would call a publicity contest, this devestating disaster once more raises the question of why the developed world has done nothing to prevent natural disasters in the third world in the first place.

While they are all too keen to offer aid now, once the spotlight is off, will they continue to do so? And what will be done in the long run to prevent the re-occurence of such disastors around the world?


Local effects of the South–East Asian Tsunami

Writing about web page http://www.cornishman.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=144143&command=displayContent&sourceNode=144131&contentPK=11607368&moduleName=InternalSearch&keyword=survivors%20olly%20lou&formname=filtersearch

Olly was the cheff and Lou was a barmaid at the bar we all worked at together last year. At the end of the summer they'd saved enough to go off and travel for a few years; a dream trip through Sri Lanka, Singapore,Indo and Australia. But on boxing day they were struck by the Tsunami and no-one heard from them for over 24 hours.
When we did get emails they were not just full of their relief at having survived relatively unharmed, but at the horror of the way other people were behaving. Olly described the unbelieveable generosity of the locals, who gave them somewhere to stay and even bought them toothbrushes and shoes. In stark contrast to this he described the arrogance of the panicked Westerners, who were fighting over taxis and expecting locals to arrange transport and hotels!
It just goes to show that those who have nothing still think of others while the rich, who may have lost their luggage, are able to think of nothing but themselves. (They were in a part of Sri Lanka where, although there was huge destruction, there were not many lives lost).

October 27, 2004

Flooding in Haiti

Writing about web page http://society.guardian.co.uk/societyguardian/story/0,,1314531,00.html

'*Squalid excuses *Deforestation has left Haiti vulnerable to natural disaster. But it is the failure to address the grinding poverty of local farmers rather than their own greed that is the real culprit, says Charles Arthur' Wednesday September 29, 2004 The Guardian

This article stresses the historical and present economic and political situation in Haiti that has led to the situation today, where it is vulnerable to severe flooding due to deforestation. The author points blame for the thousands of deaths in Haitian floods not just on their government, but also on International organiastions, namely the World Bank and the IMF.


my media diary

I am going to keep a media diary on natural disasters in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs). This is a very interesting topic because natural disasters, while occuring all around the world, have hugely different effects on the communities they strike, depending largely on wealth and development. What seems so obviously natural is in fact largely political, to the point that famines can be argued to be solely political occurences and therefore utterly avoidable. In my media diary I aim to look at the way natural disasters in LEDCs are reported in the media and discuss how biased they are.

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