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IMF, World Bank Announce Increased Aid Measures For Flood Relief In Pakistan

“The IMF and the World Bank have stepped up aid to flood-hit Pakistan to help the country cope with its worst-ever humanitarian disaster,” Agence France-Presse reports.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the fund “‘will provide around 450 million dollars in immediate emergency financing’ to Pakistan to help manage the aftermath of devastating floods,” the news service reports (9/2). In a statement on Thursday, “Strauss-Kahn said he will ask the IMF board to make the loan available this month. He also told reporters that talks are continuing to ‘reorganize’ a previously approved loan, unrelated to the disaster, that was frozen,” Bloomberg writes. “The emergency aid will come under the “Natural Disaster Assistance” program, the fund said” (Rastello, 9/2). Reuters published a Q&A about the IMF’s emergency aid (Aziz/Ahmed, 9/2).

On Wednesday, the World Bank said it would raise its Pakistan loan package to $1 billion up from the original $900 million, RTTNews reports (9/2). “The World Bank is committed to helping the people of Pakistan during this time of need and has made US$1 billion available to finance immediate recovery needs and longer-term reconstruction,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in a statement, Reuters writes.  

“The funds are being diverted to flood use from money already earmarked for Pakistan. They will come from the International Development Association, the bank’s fund for the poorest countries, and are concessional and carry no interest payments, the statement said” (Eckert, 9/1).

Inter Press Service reports on the response of NGOs to the World Bank and IMF announcements, noting that several of these groups are calling for creditors to cancel Pakistan’s debt in light of the disaster.

“The Jubilee Debt Campaign, a coalition of groups seeking cancellation of ‘unpayable and illegitimate developing country debts,’ says, prior to the floods, Pakistan spent three times as much on debt repayment as it did on health care. ‘To continue to force Pakistan to repay these loans, giving even more loans in the meantime and forcing the country to implement economic conditions that will make poverty even worse, is reprehensible and reckless,’ said Jubilee director Nick Dearden in a statement” (Berger, 9/2).

News Outlets Report On Aid Effort Challenges

Meanwhile, the U.N. said on Thursday that aid efforts are “being stretched by the ‘unprecedented scale’ of the disaster, with the flow of international aid almost at a standstill,” Agence France-Presse reports.

“Although the initially slow pace of aid had improved since a visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in mid-August, the U.N. said it had ‘almost stalled’ since the beginning of last week, rising from 274 million dollars to 291 million dollars – about two thirds of aid needs,” the news service writes.

“Given the number of those in need, this is a humanitarian operation of unprecedented scale,” said Manuel Bessler, head of the U.N.’s humanitarian coordination agency (Mansoor, 9/2).

Tensions among flood survivors are high on the ground. “Aid workers say [flood survivors] have fled outbreaks of violence among the frustrated survivors living in makeshift camps, while there have been isolated, spontaneous protests that have occasionally forced road closures,” AFP writes in a story about how frustration on the ground is affecting the aid effort (Mansoor, 9/2).

The Red Cross is concerned the unrest will spread over anger that aid is not arriving fast enough, Deutsche Welle reports. “As floodwaters begin to recede and millions of Pakistanis fight to survive, the international aid organization has launched a fresh appeal for donations. ‘What we are detecting is a very worrying trend of areas where people are so in need, so resentful of not getting enough aid, that they turn understandably aggressive,’ said Jacques de Maio, the head of operations for South Asia at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). ‘This is bad because it doesn’t help in our efforts to reach more of them.'”

“It’s one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes of the last decade,” said Jacques de Maio, the head of operations for South Asia at the International Committee of the Red Cross. “We are not in for a sprint, we’re here for a marathon.” The news service writes: “De Maio says the Red Cross is focusing on delivering as much aid to as many people as possible but that needs still far outstrip supplies. The ICRC says it has provided food, drinking water, medicine, tents and other goods to 350,000 people. They would like to reach at least an additional one million flood victims in the next six weeks, and need [approximately $76 million] in donations to be able to do so” (9/2).

Malaria Suspected To Be On The Rise

BMJ News reports that “health workers have expressed concern about the rise in the number of suspected malaria cases that have been reported” in Pakistan. On August 29, the 27 percent of patients receiving treatment in Baluchistan and Sindh were suspected to have malaria. According to WHO data, out of the 3.7 million patients who have been treated in affected areas since the floods began, 94,000 were cases of suspected malaria. “The numbers of cases of cholera and of acute diarrhoea also continue to rise, with the continuing lack of safe drinking water being blamed.” The article discusses the challenges of reaching affected people and restoring health facilities (Siva, 9/2).

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