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2010年8月22日 (日)

パキスタン洪水 対テロ前線国に支援を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 22, 2010)
Japan must lose no time in getting aid to Pakistan
パキスタン洪水 対テロ前線国に支援を急げ(8月21日付・読売社説)

Pakistan has been hit by devastating floods said to be the worst in 80 years.

It is feared flood damage will continue to spread as monsoon rains are expected to continue through the end of this month.

In a special meeting Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution urging member nations to extend emergency relief to the flood-ravaged nation. The meeting was called as international assistance had been insufficient despite the wide extent of the disaster-stricken areas and the seriousness of damage there.

The United States, which pressed for the U.N. meeting and had already extended 100 million dollars (about 8.5 billion yen) in relief funds for Pakistan, announced that it would contribute an additional 60 million dollars.

Pakistan has been at the forefront of the war on terrorism. Islamist militant terrorist groups operating there are trying to seize the opportunity to increase their influence under the guise of disaster relief efforts. The international community must offer immediate relief to prevent this natural disaster from helping the terrorists flourish.

Millions affected

The flood damage was caused by torrential rain that hit the Indus River basin in northwestern Pakistan in late July. Mud slides and flash floods washed away houses and bridges, and roads were submerged across the affected area.

Damage spread to the middle and lower reaches of the river, killing more than 1,500 people and affecting 20 million people. This means that more than 10 percent of Pakistan's population has been hit by the floods.

Three weeks after the initial damage, more than 8 million people still need emergency relief as they have lost their homes and possessions.

Evacuees reportedly are having difficulty obtaining enough food, water and tents. Besides having to endure hot and humid weather, many--especially children and the elderly--are suffering from cholera caused by worsening sanitary conditions. Many are also suffering from malaria.

Given the scale of damage, the United Nations is calling on member nations and relief organizations to extend 460 million dollars in aid. But a number of nations, with their ailing economies, are slow to respond. Aid money offered by the United States, Europe, Australia and some others totals only half the targeted amount.

GSDF to help

Japan's state secretary for foreign affairs, Osamu Fujimura, announced at the meeting that Japan would not only extend 14.4 million dollars but also dispatch a helicopter unit of the Ground Self-Defense Force.

The helicopter mission is expected to transport relief materials and rescue people isolated in areas where transport systems have been cut off. This aid measure probably will be the best match for the needs in the disaster-hit areas.

The problem is that SDF personnel cannot carry arms with them as the mission is based on the law governing the dispatch of the disaster relief teams. Given the security situation in Pakistan, it cannot be said there is no risk at all for SDF personnel to carry out their mission there.

We consider it problematic that the law is based on the idea that weapons are unnecessary for natural disaster relief activities. In cooperation with the Liberal Democratic Party, which had been calling for revision of the law in this regard, and others, the government should revise the law so SDF personnel could carry weapons with them during any mission in which security concerns exist.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,Aug. 21, 2010)
(2010年8月21日01時33分  読売新聞)


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