Aid received for Pakistan’s flood victims is almost double the amount requested by the UN, the country’s foreign minister said Sunday, as relief workers struggled to save dozens of villages and towns from flooding. He said the generous assistance was ‘encouraging’, especially at a time when Europe and the US were facing economic problems.
‘The total cash and pledges that Pakistan has got so far are $815.58 million,’ Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad, adding that the country was grateful to the international community.
The UN had appealed for $460 million to provide immediate food, shelter and health care for those affected by the floods.The monsoon-triggered floods that began late July have spread from the north to the south of the country, swelling rivers and submerging hundreds of villages.
Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh was to meet officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington Monday, to discuss the economic consequences of the disaster. As concern grew about the spread of disease, the media reported Sunday that at least nine people had died of the water-borne gastroenteritis.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was to hold a meeting Tuesday with the UN and aid agencies to discuss health measures.
The United States has announced it will send an additional $60 million in aid to help besieged victims of the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the announcement at a special meeting of the UN General Assembly on August 19 that focused on the international aid response to the flooding.
“On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I want to state our resolve to help Pakistan meet the immediacy of this crisis and then to recover from it,” Clinton said.
“I want the people of Pakistan to know that the United States stands with you during this crisis, that we will be with you as rivers rise and fall, we will be with you as you replant your fields and repair your roads. We will be with you as you meet the long term challenges to build a stronger nation and a better future,” she added.
The new amount brings the U.S. aid contribution to $150 million. Weeks of heavy rains have flooded fully 20 percent of the country and left more than four million people without shelter, according the UN figures. As estimated 8 million people need immediate assistance and are in life-threatening situations, from disease or starvation.
In total, some 20 million people have been affected by the rising waters. As the crisis has deepened, the government’s capacity to provide help has been pushed to the breaking point.
The UN has made a flash appeal for aid to its members to give as generously as they can, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the international community “is only now beginning to understand the true scope of this disaster,” and that the floodwaters were “a slow-motion tsunami” whose destructive power would continue to grow.
“International humanitarian organizations are straining every muscle to deliver,” Ban said. “But they need massive additional support. Eight million people need food, water, and shelter. Fourteen million need health care with a special emphasis on children and pregnant women.”
Latest Pakistan Times Up Date About Flood aftermath: International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has vowed to stand by Pakistan in the face of massive flood-caused economic challenge as it announced discussions in Washington next week with the country’s finance officials on ways to cope with the impact of the unprecedented natural disaster. ‘We look forward to meeting with Pakistani government officials in Washington next week to evaluate the macroeconomic impact of the floods, assess the measures they are taking to address this impact, and discuss ways in which the IMF can assist Pakistan at this difficult juncture,’ Masood Ahmed, Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department of the Fund said. Pakistan’s costly fight against terrorism and impact of the regional unrest on its economy made the country enter into an $ 11.3 billion lending programme with the Fund about two years ago. In his statement, Ahmed noted the additional strains the monsoon flooding – which has destroyed huge agrarian lands in upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces and particularly the southern Sindh province – is likely to have on the country’s economy. ‘The floods which have hit Pakistan in recent weeks and brought suffering to millions of people will also pose a massive economic challenge to the people and government of Pakistan’. ‘The scale of the tragedy means that the country’s budget and macroeconomic prospects, which are being supported by an IMF financed program, will also need to be reviewed,’ the official remarked. He reaffirmed the Fund’s support for Pakistan, saying ‘as highlighted by IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in his letter to President Asif Ali Zardari at the outset of this disaster, the IMF stands with Pakistan at this difficult time and will do its part to help the country’