Several aid organizations are urging the European Union to increase its support for flood-ravaged Pakistan.
Oxfam, Plan, Eurodad and Concern Worldwide specifically directed their appeal to EU ministers convening in Brussels today (Sept. 16) to draft the bloc’s position in next week’s Millennium Development Goals summit and discuss possible readjustment to the EU’s foreign policy.
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The EU must “drastically” increase its contribution to the United Nations appeal for Pakistan, the aid agencies say. The bloc should also grant trade concessions to help boost Pakistan’s access to European markets and cancel the Islamic nation’s bilateral debt.
“Europe’s response to flood-hit Pakistan is a litmus test to see if the EU can really up its game in international affairs. EU leaders have all the right tools to respond and now they just need to act. 2010 should mark the start of Europe’s new approach to tackling global humanitarian emergencies,” said Elise Ford, head of Oxfam’s EU office.
Emergency aid from IMF
The International Monetary Fund’s executive board has approved the disbursement of about USD451 million in emergency aid for Pakistan to help rehabilitate the Islamic nation following the massive monsoon flooding.
The amount will be channeled through the nation’s budget to help fund supplementary spending for flood victims and prevent a decline in external reserves.
The Pakistani government’s “commitment to move ahead with the introduction of a reformed general sales tax, aimed at broadening the tax base, and a strategy for reforming the electricity sector will be important in addressing the budgetary situation and help facilitate the completion of the fifth review under” a 23-month standby arrangement worth some USD7.61 billion, IMF Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair Murilo Portugal said in a statement.
The U.S. government may redirect more money from the USD7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar bill to help Pakistan in the aftermath of the floods, U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said.
“We may switch more money (from the Kerry-Lugar fund), which means some of the projects of the bill may have to be delayed because of emergency,” Holbrooke said, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.
The Kerry-Lugar bill finances nonmilitary aid projects such as water and energy initiatives in Pakistan.
The U.S. has so far provided USD268 million to support relief and recovery efforts in the Islamic nation.
The U.S. “has donated the most money and the most helicopters,” Holbrooke was quoted by Reuters as saying. “Pakistan has to start all over again and the international community – and again led by the United States – will be here to help them. That’s why we are here.”