mr. zilla goes to town

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

international rescue

On Friday night I'm going to be DJing a 4 hour set at a tsunami benefit up the street at Wolfson College. All proceeds (including all the bar staff's pay and the 50 quid for the DJ) are going to to the Hikkaduwa Economic Area Redevelopment Trust (HEART), a charity located on the Southwest coast of Sri Lanka. The immediate goals of HEART are to ensure that sanitation, food, clean water, shelter, and clothing are provided. Longer term efforts will focus on the needs of local businesses and fishermen needing assistance to rebuild boats and buy equipment.

Norwegian blogger Anders Jacobsen is going to donate US$1 to the British Red Cross for every blog who links to him and posts the following links, so here goes (and please donate to one of the below if you haven't already):

International aid organizations:
UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund)
United Nations' World Food Programme
Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors without Borders (donate!)
CARE International
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

UK/Europe:
Disasters Emergency Comittee (DEC) - comprises a raft of aid agencies, including the below and others
British Red Cross
Oxfam
Save the Children UK

North America:
American Red Cross
Canadian Red Cross
Save The Children
Oxfam America

Anders Jacobsen: Webloggers: Give to tsunami victims and I'll give too!


I hate to be churlish about the deep goodwill of people around the world, but there are a couple of stories popping up that I find slightly frustrating. One in particular was a BBC News report of doctors from the UK individually and independently loading up a few boxes of medical supplies and jumping on a plane for Thailand or Indonesia, rather than coordinating through an aid agency such as MSF. The selfless sentiment of these highly skilful people is great. But to be honest just rocking into a disaster zone without your own logistical support is going to place a burden on some other organisation to support you. This is one of the reasons why military forces are so useful in situations such as these; they have the procedures, the communication infrastructure, and the hardware to be self-sustaining as well as mobile and therefore get a lot done where it needs to be done. I hope these doctors can attach themselves to groups in the afflicted area who can place them where they are needed the most.

Mungbeans the world over who seem to be taking the opportunity to blame the victims, the UN, or "the Left" for the disaster score mister z's twats of the week awards. The wingnut syncophants at Tim Blair's are in such a state they should just naff off together to Baghdad and see if they can kick-start their own caulifate.

While I wouldn't lump him in with Blair's geese as a rule, one example is the comment over at MrLefty from Aussie blogger Mike Jericho:

Tim Blair has the issue well and truly covered.

It doesn't look like lack of aid is the problem. The UN lying and claiming credit for things being done by the US and Australian armies looks like the problem.

That and the fact that, after this tragedy, the UN has done next to nothing aside from fly officials around to look grave.


We must set aside images like these of UN World Food Programme delivering a planeload of aid to Sri Lanka back before the year was out, because they are clearly pieces of sham propaganda worthy of Leni Reifenstahl and not to be believed. Unlike other images that have washed over the airwaves recently of rations being tossed from the window of a US helicopter or the first RAF planeload of aid to arrive in the area in early January.

If we want to talk about the role the UN is and should be playing, rather than carry on with such petty pissing contests I think we have to remember to ask, how many aircraft/helicopter carriers does the UN possess? At last count, I think it was zero. How many dozen C130J or IL76 heavy lifters does the UN possess in its hangers on the Island of Unitednationsia? I think it could be zero. How many battalions of rapid-response construction engineers? It's a small number. guess.

I am sure that right-wingers are not going to be lobbying for the creation of a permanent duplicate supra-national pseudo-military crisis response force -- lets call it 'International Rescue' -- with airlift and troop capabilities on par with the top notch US and Australian hardware to deal with such events. Since many on the right are against paying even the current level of UN dues no doubt they would be aghast at the idea of the resources needed to staff, train and materially support such an entity. Perhaps it could be staffed by marionettes?

Linda Polman's We Did Nothing published in the mid 1990s and translated to English in 2003 provided an excellent in-the-weeds picture of the flaws and imperfections of UN operations but also slams home the oft conveniently ignored fact that such flaws of the UN are those caused by the nation-states who comprise it.

The point is that (some) individual nation states have strengths at their disposal that are a blessing to have in the days immediately following a crisis of this magnitude. International organisations that are at their guts about persuasion and coordination have other strengths. I imagine that the wingnutters who sleep soundly because they are still playing the tape recordings of Dick Cheney under their pillow at night (telling them the war in Iraq is going wonderfully and that the WMDs are just around the corner) would probably have difficultly understanding these latter concepts.

On the other hand, I just heard Tony Blair in an interview on the Beeb also talking some sense about the need to not lose sight of other imperatives such as AIDS and malaria - which kill in the order of three million people a year each.

3 Comments:

  • Beautifully put (particularly the "international rescue" remark).

    By Blogger Jeremy, at 10:25 pm  

  • As you say, it is amazing that such critics of the UN attack it for doing too little with the ultimate goal that it will dwindle to nothingness and disappear.

    The UN failed to respond adequately: cut its funding! So that next time it will do even less.

    Peculiar. Also peculiar is the level of emotional investment such people have in attacking the UN. Did the Secretary-General's kid beat them up in the playground twenty years ago or something?

    Nick
    http://crustaceans.donotuselifts.net

    By Blogger Nick, at 11:16 pm  

  • if the UN disappears in a puff of arse-oriented pragmatic logic then we enlightened powers can return to our natural state of affairs of taking care of the darkies. Such is our burden.*

    *Unless we decide to just not give a fcuk this week.

    By Blogger mister z, at 2:24 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home