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Donors Announce New Pledges For Pakistan Flood Relief

The U.S. and other donor nations “significantly upped their pledges” of aid for the flooding in Pakistan during a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Thursday, in which the U.N. “appeared to [meet] its target of $460 million in immediate aid for flood-stricken Pakistan,” the Associated Press reports.

“The rush of promised help came after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon … urged governments and people to be even more generous than they were in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and this year’s Haiti earthquake because the floods were a bigger ‘global disaster,'” the news service writes. “This disaster is like few the world has ever seen,” Ban said. After about 20 high-level country representatives spoke, “Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he was assured that the $460 million goal ‘is going to be easily met,’ including ‘$100 million plus’ from Saudi Arabia,” the AP writes (Lederer, 8/19).

At the meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. would provide Pakistan with an additional $60 million for flood-relief efforts, bringing the U.S. contribution to $150 million “in a move designed to encourage other governments and private donors to boost their aid,” the Washington Post reports (Lynch, 8/20). “The U.S. has and will continue to take swift action to help Pakistan,” Clinton said, according to the Financial Times. She noted that U.S. civilian and military aircraft have rescued more than 6,000 people and delivered more than six million pounds of relief supplies, such as boats, temporary shelters and pre-fabricated bridges. According to Clinton, about $92 million of the U.S. aid will be included in the U.N. relief plan (Bond, 8/20).  

“We see 20 million members of the human family in desperate need of help,” Clinton said, CNN reports. “I want the people of Pakistan to know: The United States will be with you through this crisis. We will be with you as the rivers rise and fall. We will be with you as you replant your fields and repair your roads. And we will be with you as you meet the long-term challenge to build a stronger nation and a better future for your families,” she said (8/20).

“Qureshi, who was joined by Richard C. Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, singled out the United States for leading the international effort to respond to the calamity,” the Washington Post writes. “Thank you, America,” he said, adding that regular Pakistanis had taken note of U.S. contributions. “You have shown the world that you are a caring nation” (Lynch, 8/20). 

Also at the meeting, the “European Union raised its pledge to more than $180 million. In addition, Britain said it would double its contribution to nearly $100 million, on top of $25 million in public donations, and Germany raised its aid to $32 million,” according to the AP (8/19).

Shah, Kerry Discuss Rebuilding After Flood, Aid

Earlier on Thursday, Shah spoke at a meeting of the Asia Society, Inter Press Service reports. He “pointed to the successes of U.S. help in response to the 2005 earthquake centred in Pakistan-administrated Kashmir. There, the goal was to ‘build back better,’ he said. Shah hoped the response to this disaster will follow a similar model, using new technology and new strategies to rebuild the infrastructure and communities more resilient than before,” IPS writes. “The recovery will take a long time,” Shah said, “but it also affords an opportunity to build back in a better way” (de Fazio/Berger, 8/19).  

During his trip to Pakistan, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) “said Thursday that $200 million from Kerry-Lugar Bill allocations will be diverted to flood assistance,” CNN reports. “None of us want to see this crisis provide an opportunity or an excuse for people who want to exploit the misfortune of others for political or ideological purposes,” he said at a joint news conference with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. “And so it is important for all of us to work overtime and to provide the assistance that is necessary,” Kerry added (8/20).

UNICEF To Triple Aid Appeal

As the level of devastation in Pakistan becomes more clear, UNICEF said it would triple its emergency aid appeal for flood survivors, Agence France-Presse/Vancouver Sun reports. “We now estimate that we need at least 141 million dollars to deal with the numbers we’re trying to handle,” said Daniel Toole, UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia.

“UNICEF had appealed for 47 million dollars to fund its part of the huge relief operation in Pakistan two weeks ago, within the overall 460 million dollar U.N. appeal. The agency has received just eight million dollars in cash from donors and 35 million dollars in pledges, Toole revealed,” the news service writes. Toole said, “I’ve been working emergencies for more than 15 years, I have never seen an emergency this large: the scope, the scale, the number of people displaced.” According to Toole, hot temperatures are making the huge expanses of water an ideal breeding ground for malaria and cases of diarrhea among children in the country had risen considerably. “The situation with health is quite severe,” he said (8/19). 

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