The Associated Press reported about a week ago that the first victims of the earthquake in Pakistan have died from exposure to freezing temperatures.

Kashmir Winter Claims First Quake Survivor
BAGH, Pakistan – Subfreezing temperatures and the first snowfall in
Kashmir claimed the life of an infant Monday — the first reported victim of what officials fear will be a new disaster for millions of Pakistanis left homeless by an earthquake.

A middle-aged man with terminal cancer also died after he was taken to a NATO hospital suffering from hypothermia.

The article goes on to discuss how a lack of funding is a major concern.  Donations from governments as well as from private sources have been inadequate.  Charitable giving is down due to compassion fatigue — more and more people are tired of caring.  Please donate what you can afford.  Also keep in mind that this disaster is only one of the ongoing tragedies in the world.  Give generously.  More details and actions you can take, below the fold.

The AP article goes on the discuss the lack of financial resources nearly two months after the earthquake occurred.

“It is only the beginning of winter. We are concerned,” said [Elisabeth] Byrs, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva. “The race to provide suitable shelter in time is not lost yet, but the consequences resulting from a lack of funds could result in more deaths of vulnerable people” such as the elderly and infants.

So far, the U.N. has received $216 million in emergency relief funds, only 39 percent of its appeal for $550 million.

If we don’t get people into shelters, they will die. It’s as simple as that,” said Air Commodore Andrew Walton, commander of the NATO disaster response team in Pakistan.

Officials say that at least 8 have died already from harsh weather.  A more recent AP article further discusses the current situation.

U.N. Official Appeals for Quake Aid Funds
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The World Food Program chief appealed Saturday for urgent funds to keep an airlift flying to quake-ravaged areas through the winter, calling it “the most difficult” logistical task the U.N. agency has ever faced.

WFP director James Morris said the agency has enough capacity to keep making aid flights to remote areas through January but needs about $65 million-$70 million to fund the air operation until April 30.

A total of 234 patients with winter-related ailments were admitted within the past 24 hours, said Bashir Rahman, medical superintendent at the state-run Abbas Institute of Medical Science hospital. Seven had pneumonia.

“The situation now is under control but in the coming days it could get worse, especially for people living at high altitude,” he said.

Dr. Abdul Hamid of the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association, which runs a field hospital in Muzaffarabad, said 174 people with respiratory tract infections, flu, fever and pneumonia had been admitted in the past two days.

While some of the lack of donations is likely due to the fact that many people have already given all they can afford, compassion fatigue is another reason often cited for the lack of charitable giving.  People seem to be getting tired of caring.

Compassion fatigue leaves quake victims out in the cold
[Kemal] Dervis [head of the UN Development Program] pointed to “compassion fatigue” as one reason for the apparent disparity in generosity. “We have seen Katrina, the Guatemala mudslides and the tsunami. We know aid budgets are stretched. But we have to re-energise the donor community.”

Charities Are Worried This Giving Season
But in this unprecedented year, many are concerned about “donor fatigue” — people feeling they’ve already given their limit. They see signs of that in the slower, smaller response to the Pakistan earthquake and in the depleted coffers of local charities.

“I would encourage people to hold off on endowment campaigns and things that can wait, and address the human suffering of the 800,000 people without shelter in Pakistan,” says [Daniel] Borochoff [head of the American Institute for Philanthropy]. “We are trying to build better relations with the Islamic world.” Indonesians, he points out, had a much more favorable disposition toward the US after the help Americans gave for the tsunami.

The last quote brings up a point addressed recently in a Daily Kos diary about a 60 Minutes report on 13 paramedics from New York City who are winning hearts and minds by helping people in Pakistan.  It’s an additional benefit we get out of doing the right thing.

A final reminder of what is at stake:

Save Pakistan from ‘donor fatigue’
Experts believe 1 million people are at risk of hypothermia. Two hundred thousand villagers in more remote areas may soon be cut off by snow. A “second wave” of deaths from cold, hunger, and disease is feared.

The tsunami response experience is instructive. US charitable giving of $1.7 billion almost doubled the amount of Washington’s official aid package of $900 million.

Please give what you can.

Additional actions:

Save the Children is asking that you call your members of Congress and “urge them to immediately provide additional humanitarian assistance for earthquake-affected regions in Pakistan.”  Their appeal appears to be mainly for shelter, food, and medical supplies that are immediately needed.

Oxfam is asking that we write to President Bush asking him to support the UN Emergency Reserve Fund.  The fund would allow money to be immediately distributed when a disaster occurs so that fewer people die from the lack of a rapid response.

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