Friday, August 20, 2010

Flood aid builds up for Pakistan after UN appeals

Donors have pledged more money for flood-stricken Pakistan following appeals at an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he had been assured that the UN's target of $460m (£295m) goal would be "easily met". UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the emergency session that the floods were like "a slow-motion tsunami". The monsoon-triggered floods have affected about one-fifth of Pakistan.

An estimated 20 million people are affected and experts say shelter, food and clean water are urgently needed to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Before the meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, Mr Ban said not even half of the $460m target needed for initial relief had been raised, and the response remained slow. The US - already the biggest donor - announced it would contribute another $60m, bringing its total to more than $150m.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about $92m would go to the UN's appeal. The EU has also increased its pledge to more than $180m and the UK is nearly doubling its contribution to almost $100m. Germany has raised its aid to $32m and Mr Qureshi said Saudi Arabia was pledging more than $100m. China is expected to announce its donation during the second session of the UN meeting on Friday. "If you put this all together, it's substantial," said Mr Qureshi. Addressing the UN earlier, Mr Qureshi warned that unless his country received adequate assistance, hard-won gains in the government's war against insurgents could be undermined.

Pakistan is a key ally in the US-led war against militants in neighbouring Afghanistan. Islamabad has assured Washington and its allies that troops fighting the insurgency in the north-west of the country have not been redeployed to the relief efforts. But correspondents say suffering and social chaos caused by the floods could play into the militants' hands. At least 1,500 people have died in the floods, which began in the north and have swept south towards the sea, destroying roads and bridges, flooding farmland and knocking out power stations.

Tens of thousands of villages remain underwater. Aid agencies say there are signs that the crisis is growing worse, as new flood waters continue to surge south along the Indus river and more flood defences collapse, forcing people to flee their homes.


Post a Comment