The situation of the millions affected in Pakistan’s flood-hit regions is growing more desperate with the sluggish donor response to the crisis, which, international aid agencies say, pales in comparison with how the international community responded to previous crises in Pakistan and Haiti.
According to international aid group Oxfam, only 3 percent of the U.N.’s $357 million appeal for Pakistan has so far been funded. This is despite the magnitude of those affected — more than 8.8 million people in Sindh and 14,000 in Balochistan provinces. The numbers are more than the combined impact of the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan earthquake of 2005, Oxfam says.
Donor commitment in the first 10 days of the U.N. appeal for the 2011 floods in Pakistan has come up to only $11.5 million. This translates to just $1.30 per person, less than half of the $3.20 committed in the same period during last year’s floods.
In the case of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan — which left 3.5 million homeless — donors committed some $247 million and pledged $45 million within the first 10 days of the earthquake. This translated to around $70 per person. In the first 10 days of the earthquake in Haiti, meanwhile, donors committed some $742 million and pledged $920 million. This turned out to $495 per person for the 1.5 million people it directly affected.
The land area damaged by the floods in Pakistan is also said to be nearly as large as in Haiti.
The massive loss of crops and livestock means millions are facing starvation. At least 4 million children in Sindh are at risk of hunger and disease, says Save the Children.
Experts blame the magnitude of the disaster for the second year running to the Pakistani government’s failure to apply the lessons learned from last year’s floods, as well as to the government’s delay in reaching out to international aid agencies for help because of red tape.
The situation has prompted aid agencies such as Oxfam to intensify their appeal for donors to increase their assistance rapidly.
“Each passing day puts more people at risk of deadly diseases, forces more people into hunger and destroys more futures. We are in a battle against time. Donors, the UN, aid agencies and the government, need to step up their response immediately. People need help now,” says Neva Khan, country director of Oxfam in Pakistan.
The International Organization for Migration, meanwhile, has diverted 7,000 emergency shelter and nonfood relief item kits from a contingency stockpile in Punjab to meet the huge demand for emergency shelter in Sindh.
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