U.S. stinting on aid to Pakistan

NEW YORK – Americans are giving a paltry amount for relief efforts in flood-stricken Pakistan compared to other overseas disasters. They were more than 40 times more generous for the Haiti earthquake.

Reasons include the slow-motion nature of the calamity, relatively scant TV coverage, and – unmistakably – the fact that the strategic Muslim ally is viewed warily by many Americans.

No disasters are alike. Yet a month into Pakistan’s flood catastrophe, with 8 million people in dire need and a fifth of its territory affected, the donation comparisons are startling.

InterAction, an umbrella group for U.S. relief agencies active abroad, says its affiliates have raised about $12 million thus far for Pakistan, compared to more than $500 million at the same stage of the Haiti earthquake relief effort earlier this year.

The American Red Cross, traditionally the biggest recipient of disaster relief donations, has collected about $2 million for Pakistan and is dipping into a contingency fund to support its work there. At the same stage, it had raised about $100 million in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, more than $670 million for Hurricane Katrina and about $230 million for the Haiti quake.

“People find it complicated to understand our relationship with Pakistan – how the government works, who to trust,” said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which has been tracking the donations.


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