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YANA PASKOVA/Herald photo

University of Wisconsin students and members of the Muslim Students' Association congregated in the Humanities building Tuesday to raise aid and awareness for victims of the catastrophic earthquake that struck near Pakistan's capitol, Islamabad, less than two weeks ago.

While many efforts have been initiated to help those affected by the quake, so far total relief for the area has been minimal in comparison to funds raised for Hurricane Katrina and Southeast Asia tsunami victims.

According to MSA, the American Red Cross has reported only $45,000 has been raised toward Pakistani relief in comparison to the $1.3 billion raised for the Southeast Asia tsunami and the $1.7 billion for Hurricane Katrina.

However, other organizations such as Islamic Relief are bringing millions of dollars in aid, material donations — including tents and food — and volunteer efforts to the area, but members said more efforts must be organized to adequately fulfill the need required for victims there.

"The scale of the quake is unprecedented in the area," Islamic Relief Development Coordinator Misbah Shahid said. "The issue is not only the people who have died … the trauma people will face [in the aftermath of the quake] is enormous."

While Hurricane Katrina and the Southeast Asia tsunami received considerably more attention in the United States than the earthquake in Pakistan, Shahid said it is wrong to say one disaster's victims deserve more attention than another's, adding adequate relief should be raised for all people left disparaged by such cataclysmic global events.

"I think there is need everywhere. We can't say one person is in more need than another," he said, adding Islamic Relief pledged $2 million in Katrina-related relief. "It's an on-going effort, and no one should trump one with another."

MSA has already raised $2,000 so far within the campus community and $15,000 from Madison residents, Shahid said.

At the meeting, UW graduate student and Islamabad native Waheed Bajwa described accounts from friends caught in the disaster.

"There are a few of my friends who live close to the epicenter and one of my friends lost 12 family members," Bajwa said. "He was telling all you could see … is rubble and nothing else. There were hardly any buildings standing."

Bajwa also read from various news accounts of the event.

"People are pulling out the bodies all the time," Bajwa said. "And later, they are digging up the [school] playground for a mass grave."

Bajwa added because of the lack of medical assistance in the area, victims suffering from otherwise minor injuries to their limbs are "going straight to amputation" to prevent disease and gangrene.

"More people could die if we don't reach them soon," he said. "If — and only if — we react fast enough."

UW senior and MSA member Amber Khan said earthquake-relief efforts were expected to raise similar funds in comparison to Katrina and the tsunami, but the "lack of publicity" for the event has been detrimental to the cause.

"A lot of people here have been focusing on Katrina, which is understandable," she said. "But at the same time, the quake has kind of been neglected due to previous disasters."