When I heard that Médecins Sans Frontières had stopped accepting donations for the Tsunami, I was a little boggled. They claim to be an emergency relief organisation and if this were all they did, it’d be reasonable of them to let the purse-opening public know that the emergency had been sufficiently bankrolled. But what had held MSF in my high esteem for so long was that they went beyond the mandate of ordinary relief groups, such as CARE, by getting political, and pointing out structural constraints to the delivery of emergency medical aid. South Africa’s Zapiro can point these out fairly astutely.
Seems a little strange that MSF should lose the plot so spectacularly. So, if you were thinking of donating to them for the Tsunami, and find yourself unable to, do think about sending your cash to Via Campesina. They don’t pretend to be as comprehensive or as well funded as the international aid agencies, but they’re on the ground now because they were there last year, and they’ll be there for years to come. Here’s an example of what they’re up to in their latest newsletter.
On the one hand, a lot of donated instant noodles, biscuits, medicine, clothes, milk, etc., is arriving at the airports, but they still have not been distributed because of the lack of coordination in the government bureaucracy.. On the other hand, fresh food is coming from the farmers who are members of the Via Campesina-member (Indonesian National Peasant federation (FSPI) in North Sumatra province, and from other local farmer groups. We think this is the best kind of food for refugees and other people who are still alive in Aceh and North Sumatra. Tomorrow we will start sending in food like bananas, cassava, fruits, rice, chilli, potatoes, and fresh vegetables, plus cooking tools, and will continue to send clothes, infant formula, drinking water and burial tools, via our civil society coordination center in Banda Aceh and Langsa.