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Tsunami opportunity to invest in global welfare

As rescue workers push deeper into regions affected by the massive 9.0 earthquake and the resulting tsunamis on Dec. 26 in the Indian Ocean, it has become common for the media to update casualties by tens of thousands.
The death toll from Malaysia to East Africa was listed at 156,000 Monday morning after Indonesia raised its figures by 14,000 to more than 94,000 for that nation alone.
Most of these casualties were the direct result of one or more tsunamis, something most Americans knew very little about until last week.
A wind-generated swell rolling into the West Coast from the Pacific Ocean might have a wave length of 150 meters and last 10 seconds. A tsunami can have a wave length in excess of 100 kilometers and last an hour, according to the U.S. Dept. of Defense.
While coastal workers are among those hardest hit in Southeast Asia, losses are extremely widespread and almost incomprehensible.
One Indonesian army garrison lost all but 12 of 270 soldiers and their families. Some parts of Aceh province in northernmost Sumatra reported as many as one in four citizens are dead.
More than 15 aftershocks with magnitudes in excess of 5.0 were recorded on Friday, but the biggest threat ‘ one that could double the death toll ‘ is now disease.
Typhoid, malaria, cholera, dysentery and waterborne disease are urgent concerns in devastated areas of Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, where a combination of swamping seawater, hot and humid weather, and decomposing corpses have contaminated many water supplies.
Access to clean water has become a top priority. One reason why the death toll continues to climb by leaps and bounds is the difficulty in reaching some areas. That equates to difficulty in providing relief.
More than $2 billion has been pledged worldwide for the emergency relief effort, larger than what was pledged for all other humanitarian emergencies combined in 2004, CNN reported, but that figure is still relatively low compared with the need.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency provided $3.3 billion to Florida after four hurricanes whacked that state last year. The deadliest hurricane, Charley, was blamed for fewer than three dozen victims in that state.
Japan was the largest contributor Monday to tsunami relief, pledging $500 million. The United States has promised $350 million.
Those numbers have also been rising rapidly. Just last week, the United States first offered $35 million and Japan $30 million.
Inmates at an Indian jail collected nearly $1,675 to donate to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund on Tuesday. The jail staff contributed their day’s salary.
‘The tsunami disaster constitutes a humanitarian tragedy of incredible proportions,’ said U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana). As Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair, Lugar introduced a resolution to express the sense of the Senate regarding the tsunamis.
‘My resolution explains the gravity of the situation, offers condolences to the victims and their loved ones, and sets the stage for Congress to make generous appropriations,’ Lugar said.
He urges a generous response by the United States and the international community.
The tsunami is a disaster, but it’s also an opportunity to invest in global welfare. The Red Cross, UNICEF, and other humanitarian aid organizations are accepting donations and conducting relief efforts in those areas. Now is the giving season.

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