Opinion

Commentary: Pakistan's flood victims need our help

America has a well-deserved, hard-earned reputation for generosity to people in need, not just at home but anywhere in the world.

When Haiti was devastated by the earthquake in January, there was an amazing outpouring of support. In the first two weeks alone, Americans texted and called in more than $500 million in donations to nonprofit groups. As of last month, the American Red Cross had raised $468 million by itself, and U.S. government agencies had set aside more than $1.1 billion in help for Haiti.

So why the relative lack of charity now toward Pakistan? Epic flooding that started last month has killed about 1,600 people and counting and left as many 4 million homeless. In all, 8 million are in urgent need of humanitarian relief, the United Nations says.

Aid groups, however, report a trickle of donations compared to Haiti. World Vision, for instance, says it has raised about $660,000 for Pakistan relief from private U.S. donors, who gave the group $44 million for Haiti.

It's not just the public that has been slow to respond.

Until the United Nations convened an emergency meeting Thursday, it had received pledges for only half of its appeal for $460 million in emergency aid. After being shamed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leaders of relief groups, governments are finally promising more. The U.S. government, which had already committed more aid than any other country — some $90 million — pledged an additional $60 million. The European Union upped its pledge to $180 million.

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