The past few weeks have demonstrated an incredible outpouring of support to those victims of the Tsunami disaster. The results are impressive:
- 3 of 10 Americans have dug into their pockets to help.
- Blogs are everywhere on the subject, most of them focused on relief and personal experiences and all of them asking for money.
- Corporate behemoths donated $125 million in cash and in-kind help.
- The U.S. government itself has pledged $350 million to help.
- The U.N. has stated that over $2 billion in country aid has been promised.
Now is not the time to stop giving where it’s needed. But I believe it’s also the time to ask the hard questions as to why this disaster has trumped all disasters. In particular, it’s distressing that an entire continent far closer to Europe and the U.S. and wealthy Arab countries is being decimated by AIDS and virtually nothing is being done nor said. Here’s a list of stats about AIDS in Africa, lifted off of CNN.com:
- 5.4 million new AIDS infections in 1999, 4 million of them in Africa.
- 2.8 million dead of AIDS in 1999, 85 percent of them in Africa.
- 13.2 million children orphaned by AIDS, 12.1 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Reduced life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa from 59 years to 45 between 2005 and 2010, and in Zimbabwe from 61 to 33.
- More than 500,000 babies infected in 1999 by their mothers — most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
- The U.S. Census Bureau projects that AIDS deaths and the loss of future population from the deaths of women of child-bearing age means that by 2010, sub-Saharan Africa will have 71 million fewer people than it would otherwise.
According to the BBC, AIDS kills 6,000 people each day in Africa. The sheer racism of this cash infusion to Asia is grotesque and needs to be called for what it is. This is not in any way to denigrate the true suffering of those families massacred by the hands of the tsunami. Nor is it in any way to knock the massive donations pushed from West to East. But it seems to me that it’s time that international organizations begin using their newfound spotlight to show donors — individual, corporate, and national — the more massive, more ongoing, and more outrageous disaster occurring on the African continent.