Donations to Pakistan only a fraction of those to Haiti
Canadians are not flocking to help Pakistanis survive floods that have left millions homeless, a poll shows, despite Ottawa's decision to match private donations.
The contrast with the public outpouring of help for Haiti after a devastating earthquake in January is "staggering," said an Angus Reid Public Opinion report.
While 38 of every 100 Canadians say they helped Haiti, only four per cent have made donations for aid in Pakistan, said Reid's online poll of 1,000 randomly selected adults conducted Aug. 24 and 25. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent.
"The differences in the reaction to both tragedies are staggering," said Reid. "Lack of information, and the absence of a televised telethon, might be some of the reasons for the dissimilar reaction from Canadians.
"However, there is also a marked increase in the perception that the money will not be put to good use. The proportion of Canadians who think all or most of the Haiti donations will be used to help the people stands at 38 per cent -- 10 points higher than for the Pakistan contributions."
That ratio, of nearly 10-1 helping Haiti versus Pakistan, is echoed in terms of money raised for Pakistan by the Humanitarian Coalition, a network of four leading aid organizations, including CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Quebec and Save the Children Canada.
Coalition coordinator Nicolas Moyer says donations spiked after the government announced Aug. 22 that it would match funds Canadians give to registered charities helping Pakistan. However, the $1.25 million the coalition members have raised so far is only a tenth of what they raised for Haiti in the same amount of time.
"The people affected are not terrorists, they're not politicians, they're farmers, normal people, millions of them, and the aid that is provided to us as nongovernmental organizations really does go straight to them," Moyer said in an interview. "It doesn't go through government channels at all."
The federal government announced Tuesday that an "interdepartmental strategic support team" is in Pakistan to help outline options for federal funding. The government has pledged $33 million in humanitarian aid beyond the matching funds. Donations will be matched until Sept. 12.
The Canadian wing of the International Red Cross saw a 50 per cent increase in donations after the matching program was announced and has raised $10.4 million, said spokeswoman Heather Badenoch. That pales against $160 million it raised for Pakistan after a major earthquake in 2005.
World Vision official Caroline Riseboro said floods are a "slow-burn emergency" that does not galvanize public attention as strongly as other disasters. World Vision has received $1.5 million donations for Pakistan, most after matching funds were announced.
"The reality is there are 3.5 million children who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, who are on the brink of survival, who need clean water, who need food -- and they don't have links to the Taliban, and this is what we need to focus on," Riseboro said.