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Tsunami#5 lending a hand « Previous | |Next »
January 3, 2005

Whilst both Banda Aceh and Meulaboh in Sumatra, Indonesia will probably be reconstructed, the survivors of the destroyed towns inbetween will be evacuated.

Will the towns be rebuilt? No one is sure. That means a shift from providing emergency relief to development.

What we do know is that massive emergency aid is the content to Cox & Forkum's excellent 'lending a hand' editorial cartoon about the Indian Ocean tsunami:

Cox and Forkum

It is the international community--not just south Asia---that is lending a hand to the devastated region Australia is a part of. The tsunami narrative includes the way the US was shamed by the UN into increasing its financial support from $35m to $350 million.

As an aside, a post on Cox and Forkum's weblog consists of a cartoon and some writing about the cartoon's subject matter.This is a similar way of working to what is sometimes done here at public opinion.

Editorial cartooning is a difficult profession these days. The job of an editorial cartoonist is to reveal the awkward truth when everybody else would prefer a tactful silence. Alas local editorial cartooning is dying, and the newspaper publishers are killing it. So says Malt Priggee.

This is a pity because an editorial cartoon can say things that a photo cannot:

Tab (Thomas Boldt), The Calgary Sun, Alberta, Canada

What does lending a hand mean? Does it mean that development is more important than relief? Does it mean helping to rebuild affected nations. So how does international community lend a reconstructive hand beyond the immediate $2 billion in emergency relief? Aid agencies work well as emergency relief agencies, as they can operate on a more local and intimate scale than government or international institutions can reach.

And development? Here is a suggestion from the Los Angeles Times. A multibillion-dollar Marshall Plan for South Asia. The Los Angeles Times says:

"The U.S. spends a bit over one-tenth of 1% of its national income on aid, less than any other developed nation. A massive American-led Marshall Plan for South Asia would cost only a fraction of the nearly $225 billion requested so far to pay for the Iraq war.And, without a doubt, it would be a far wiser investment in the war on terror."

Sounds good advice to me. Will the neocons hear it?

I would add two things.The UN should not be sidelined on this kind of generational rebuilding. Secondly, Australia should substantially increase its direct aid to Aceh and play a leading role in re-building water supplies, roads, telecommunications, schools and hospitals. Both could help prevent the Indonesian military from playing politics with aid.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)