Christian Agency Laments Lack of Support for Earthquake Victims


³Shelter Now²: The Tsunami Generated More Sympathy and Donations

Islamabad, October 28 (idea) ­ The Christian aid agency ³Shelter Now² has
criticized the lack of support for the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan
and North India. After a visit to the devastated area director Udo Stolte
said that although the disaster reached the same dimensions as those of the
tsunami the response in donations was lagging far behind.

Stolte estimates that the current death toll of around 80,000 could rise to
100,000 because help is not getting to remote areas fast enough. Winter is
setting in, and already some people have died from exposure in the higher
regions. The number of four million people without shelter is more than
twice as high as the 1.7 million after the tsunami.

Stolte is dissatisfied with the media coverage of the ongoing tragedy and
the lack of donations. The independent Central Institute for Social Issues
in Berlin has just published the appropriate figures for Germany.

In the first two weeks after the tsunami, which hit South East Asia over
Christmas last year, more than US-Dollars 360 million were donated; the
total added up to more than 800 million. By comparison, the donations for
the earthquake victims have so far reached 24 million.

Apparently a monster wave seems to generate more interest than an
earthquake, Stolte told the evangelical news agency ³idea². One reason
could be that in the case of Pakistan and India no Western tourists were

The most urgent need in the disaster zone is tents, according to Stolte.
Shelter Now is providing 5,000 until December. The agency also plans to
rebuild houses, schools and clinics.

It has ample experience in this field. Shelter Now has been active in
neighboring Afghanistan since 1988 and was involved in reconstruction work
after three earthquakes there.

The agency received international attention in 2001 when eight foreign
workers were taken hostage by the Taliban. They took them to court for
alleged missionary activity. After 102 days in captivity the Shelter workers
were liberated by US troops in November 2001.

Three former hostages from Germany ­ Silke Duerrkopf, Margit Stebner and
Georg Taubmann ­ have since returned to Afghanistan. Taubmann is Shelter¹s
project manager for the region.


Evangelical news agency idea. Wolfgang Polzer

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