The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Nepal:
Earthquake Not a U.S. Priority

May 25, 2015

The May 12th deaths of six U.S. Marines in a helicopter crash in Nepal drew attention to the earthquake devastation there. Since the original quake of April 25th, another 1,600 people have died in the aftershocks.

Nepal is located in the Himalayan mountains. It is an exceedingly poor country, where half of all children were malnourished before the earthquake.

The following article is from the May 8th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The April 25th earthquake in Nepal caused more than 7,000 deaths and 14,000 wounded, according to a press release from May 3rd. The toll is likely to grow, as many villages where homes were destroyed still had not been reached. There are continuous aftershocks, and further devastation is feared.

According to the Red Cross and Red Crescent, humanitarian aid is slow to arrive. Nepal’s small airport with only one runway can’t receive all the planes that could arrive. There is also a shortage of workers to quickly sort and redistribute all the goods that come in.

But what stands out is that the authorities of the richest countries show themselves more concerned to bring home their citizens than to furnish aid to all the victims of the catastrophe.

On Monday, May 4th, that is, ten days after the earthquake, the U.S. authorities announced they would send one military transport plane and four helicopters.

The big powers have no intention of dedicating even a part of their military arsenal to rapidly bring assistance to the Nepalese, such as necessary foods and tents and equipment to clear roads to reach inaccessible areas.

After the earthquake, there was the risk of an epidemic among the 1.7 million people living in deplorable conditions with monsoon rains arriving. But the countries that have the means don’t seem to be using them. Nepal is the country of Mount Everest that mountain climbers like, but it is above all one of the poorest countries on earth.

This catastrophe displays the selfishness and indifference of the leaders of the big powers.