The United Nations, together with the Pakistani government, is due to launch an aid appeal today (Aug. 11) for urgent assistance to an estimated 14 million people still reeling from the effects of the deadly monsoon floods.
The appeal, “estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” will be issued by U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes and representatives from the Pakistani government.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said more than USD44 million in flood aid for Pakistan has been received, with as much as USD91 million pledged.
The international response to Pakistan’s flooding pales in comparison to global relief efforts mobilized for previous disasters, Oxfam noted.
The international community committed USD274 million and pledged USD45million within 10 days of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, while some USD110 million was committed and USD109 million pledged for Myanmar within 10 days after Cyclone Nargis hit the country, the aid group explained.
“This is a mega disaster and it needs a mega response,” Neva Khan, Oxfam country director in Pakistan, said.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the Pakistani flooding is testing the limits of the global agency’s capacity, saying the disaster is among the most difficult situations it has dealt with.
“Thousands of villages and towns in low-lying areas have not seen flooding on this scale in generations,” Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UNHCR, said.
Donations flow in
Ban urged donors to give “generously” to the Islamic nation wherein the death toll has risen to 1,600, BBC reports.
The U.S. is providing a further USD20 million in humanitarian aid for Pakistan. The new funding, which brings the total contribution of the U.S. to USD55 million, will be used by the U.S. Agency for International Development to expand existing relief programs and activities as the monsoon floods move south.
Switzerland is also offering 1.5 million francs (USD1.4 million) to Pakistani flood survivors. Of the amount, 1 million francs will go to the International Committee of the Red Cross, while the remaing 500,000 francs will be managed by the World Food Program.
Pakistan will also receive some USD5 million in medical aid from Direct Relief International.
The Pakistani Taliban called on the government to refuse foreign aid, saying that aid groups are perpetuating a Western agenda. The militant group said it would provide assistance to the affected communities if international aid is rejected, Sky News Online reports.
“Pakistan should reject this aid to maintain sovereignty and independence,” Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq said.
More heavy rains are expected in the next few days as the monsoon season is only halfway over, Pakistan’s Meteorological Department warned, according to CNN.
Rainfall of about 400 millimeters triggered the flooding in Pakistan’s northern region.
“That was a record,” Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, director-general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, told Reuters. “The only explanation can be the link to climate change. Because that area very rarely receives monsoon rains.”
The destruction caused by Pakistan’s worst flooding in 80 years could have been mitigated by a mega-dam project, which has been on the drawing board for 40 years, a former Pakistani government offcial said.
“The present destruction and calamity could have been prevented,” said Shamsul Mulk, former chief of Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority. “If the Kalabagh dam had been built, this flood could have been tamed in the reservoir.”
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the government will look into reviving plans to build a dam on the Indus River at Kalabagh in Punjab province, The Wall Street Journal reports.