Rally held for Pakistan's flood victims
Canada is boosting its commitment to help the millions of people affected by flooding in Pakistan. But despite the increased aid, many Pakistani Canadians say Ottawa is not doing enough. On Saturday, a rally was held on Stephen Avenue in an effort to raise money for people affected by flooding in their homeland.
"I'm hoping to raise some amount of money so we can support our clinics in Pakistan. We need to buy medicine and tents and all kinds of equipment for this disaster," said Saima Mirza.
Waving placards and signs, the demonstrators tried convincing Calgarians to open their wallets. But despite a bold display, most onlookers stuck to the sidelines, watching the rally with their wallets closed.
Those trying to help flood victims claim downtown Calgary mirrors the world stage. They claim the international response to the flood is sluggish. Many believe the slow response is politically driven.
"The government itself in Pakistan has no credibility, not with the international world, but also with Pakistanis, so that is definitely affecting this aid to Pakistan," said Syed Soharwardy Al-Madinah with the Calgary Islamic Centre.
"Politics doesn't matter. When you have to serve the human being, then politics doesn't matter. It's a problem that people are facing and it's our responsibility as human beings to help," added Athar Zaidi with the Pakistan Canada Association.
In Pakistan, torrential rains have flooded almost one quarter of the country. More than 1,600 are confirmed dead and an estimated 20 million are now homeless. The situation is getting worse as diseases like cholera are now emerging.
On Saturday morning, the Canadian government upped its contribution to the relief effort to $33-million.
"It's a real tragedy. The situation is still unfolding and of course it's not getting better, it's getting worse. That's why we provided one of the biggest amounts initially to get things going," said Government House Leader John Baird.
To put Canada's relief effort in perspective with some other recent disaster relief, Canada offered $135-million in aid after the Haitian earthquake this year and $425-million was given to help after the 2004 tsunami in the Indian ocean.
At Calgary's rally, people welcome the boost in aid but maintain more is needed.
"It's not enough right now. We are not worried about the infrastructure right now, we are worried about saving lives," said Sadat Choudhary.
The United Nations is calling the Pakistan flooding the worst humanitarian crisis it has ever faced. It is asking donor countries for $460-million in immediate relief, while admitting it will take billions to rebuild the country once the water recedes.
If you want to donate to help the victims of the Pakistan flood there are several organizations you can contact including: