US needs quicker, bigger response to help Nepal

Nearly a million children in and near Nepal are in “urgent need” of humanitarian aid because of the massive earthquake on Saturday, UNICEF said yesterday.

By the time you read this, an army of rescue and humanitarian workers from throughout the world will be laboring to help victims of the earthquake. An 88-member search and rescue team from the United Arab Emirates was in Nepal. Israel had dispatched a 260-member search, rescue and medical team. Volunteers from British charities were in the air on their way to Nepal. That is a small sampling of global response.

Meanwhile, the United States had committed to send a disaster response team from USAID, along with $1 million. And Secretary of State John Kerry said Americans send our “heartfelt sympathy” to earthquake victims.

Sympathy and small teams able to offer little more than advice are inadequate. People are dying right now because of the earthquake. More will perish unless real help gets to Nepal quickly.

Unfortunately, U.S. response to disasters, both domestic and foreign, too often is managed in a bureaucratic fashion – while other countries react swiftly and decisively.

This is nothing new and it has nothing to do with partisan politics. It is simply in the nature of a gigantic bureaucracy to worry more about complying with sometimes irrelevant rules and regulations than helping victims of disasters, whether domestic or foreign.

President Barack Obama should issue an executive order informing all in government that response to the Nepal earthquake must be stepped up. Real help, while it can make a difference, should be provided.