Thursday, August 19, 2010

Slow aid and more rain in Pakistan

More rain is expected in Pakistan this week, if the rains are heavy enough they could further the misery brought about by the flooding. The disaster has killed 1,500 people and has displaced millions. Those displaced by the flooding are more in number than those who homes were destroyed in the Haiti earthquake.

From this Associated Press article that we found at the Wichita Eagle, writer Tim Sullivan gives us this update on the disaster.

"It's not just the scale (of the floods), it's the depth as well," said Arif Jabbar Khan, the humanitarian operations manager for the aid group Oxfam Pakistan. "People have lost most, if not all, of their assets. People save all their life, and now it's all gone."

Nabi understands that kind of loss.

"I have seen floods before. We had them in the 1970s. But I have never seen anything like this," said Nabi, 63, a thin, bearded man whose wrinkled face reflects his many years working in his fields.

Behind him, nearly 50 members of his extended family — with their mattresses, bicycles, battered metal trunks, cooking pots, plastic buckets and a couple of electric fans — were piled on a trailer pulled by a tractor.

He'd been lucky that day — he'd managed to grab a 22-pound bag of flour when an aid group drove through town throwing bags of food to a seething crowd — but he seemed stunned at how little help he'd received.

"Nothing. I got nothing from the government," he said.

Read more:

As the above article points out, aid has been little and slow to the flood survivors. When the UN General Assembly meets today, Hillary Clinton and Ban Ki Moon will both address the assembly on the need to give money to Pakistan. From the USA Today, Aamer Madhani has this assessment on the arrival of aid.

Raymond Offenheiser, the president of the international relief group Oxfam America, described international and private donors' assistance for Pakistan as "anemic" in the aftermath of the country's worst flooding in 80 years.

The United Nations has collected about half of the $460 million it says it needs to provide food, water and shelter to 6 million Pakistanis.

About 17 million Pakistanis have been affected by the flood, and roadways, homes and billions of dollars of crops have been destroyed.

With heavy rains forecast for the weeks ahead, Offenheiser said Pakistan's plight could become only more complicated in the weeks ahead.

"It really does have the potential of pushing people to migrate into other areas, destabilizing rural populations and leading to violence and struggles over access to basic assets and food in ways that could threaten the Pakistani state," Offenheiser said. "I don't think that's in the interest of any nations in the world. And I think that's on the minds of the people in the administration."

The United States has stepped up as the most significant donor and has arguably been more effective than the Pakistani government in the relief and rescue operation, experts say.

More than half the food provided to flood victims has been distributed by USAID, and Americans have delivered more than $90 million dollars in aid to Pakistan, according to the State Department. The World Bank has pledged $900 million to help rebuild Pakistan.

We thank the Oxfam twitter feed for the RTs.

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