The international response to Pakistan’s flooding disaster picked up yesterday (Aug. 12) with some USD90 million raised since the United Nations launched Aug. 11 its aid appeal of USD460 million for the Islamic nation.
However, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said relief efforts in Pakistan need to be “massively scaled up.” The global agency’s aid appeal for Pakistan will be revised within 30 days to reflect assessed needs on the ground.
Leading charities have criticized the international community’s aid for the flood-ravaged nation and called it sluggish.
The global response to Pakistan’s flooding pales in comparison to relief efforts mobilized for previous disasters, Oxfam noted, citing the committed USD274 million and pledged USD45million within 10 days of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, while some USD110 million was allocated and USD109 million pledged for Myanmar within 10 days after Cyclone Nargis hit the country.
“It’s perplexing why the international community has been so slow on this,” said Oxfam spokesman Ian Bray as quoted by The Independent. “I think they took their eye off the ball and didn’t realise how big it was and didn’t act quickly enough.”
The Pakistani government’s spending must be reduced to help address the humanitarian needs of communities affected by the fatal monsoon floods, according to the nation’s finance ministry.
“The budget might have to be re-prioritised because of damage caused by heavy rains and floods,” the ministry of finance said in a statement. The ministry also advised the Pakistani government to seek further budgetary support from the International Monetary Fund.
Economists in Karachi predicted that the damage caused by the floods could cost the nation about 1 percent of the government’s growth forecast of 4.5 percent for Pakistan’s gross domestic product, The National reports.
Nearly two weeks into the disaster, President Asif Ali Zardari made his first visit to the flood survivors, who have begun fasting for Ramadan.
“Ramadan or no Ramadan, we are already dying of hunger,” said Mai Hakeema, 50, as quoted by UKPA through The Press Association. “We are fasting forcibly, and mourning our losses.”
The U.S. announced supplementary humanitarian assistance for Pakistan, which includes some USD11.25 million to support the work of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and USD5 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross. The donor nation is also providing the World Health Organization USD3 million to help expand Pakistan’s Disease Early Warning System and Save the Children with USD4.1 million for the provision of food aid. The U.S. has so far committed USD76 million to back relief efforts in Pakistan.
The Netherlands is contributing 2 million euros (USD 2.5 million) more in flood aid to Pakistan. The money, which is on top of a previous donation of 1 million euros, will help the World Food Program deliver urgent food parcels to children, women and the elderly.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency has also channeled an additional 21.4 million kronor (USD2.9 million) for aid organizations operating in Pakistan. SIDA previously committed 20 million kronor for Pakistan.
Meanwhile, China said it could raise its flood assistance to Pakistan, Bloomberg reports. It has earlier committed 10 million yuan (USD1.5 million) for Pakistani flood victims.
“China is willing to actively consider increasing assistance based on Pakistan’s needs,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jiang Yu said in a statement.
The U.K. Disasters Emergency Committee said it has now mobilized about 9.5 million pounds (USD14.8 million) in humanitarian assistance for Pakistan.
“We still need people to keep giving because the flood waters are still spreading fast and continuing to affect millions of people,” said Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the DEC, as quoted by Third Sector.