U.S. Announces Additional $20M In Flood Aid For Pakistan

The U.S. will give an additional $20 million to aid Pakistan, bringing the total amount of flood assistance to $55 million, Mark Ward, acting director of the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, told reporters at a press briefing Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reports.

“We’re announcing an additional 20 million dollars in humanitarian assistance from the United States for the flood-affected citizens of Pakistan,” Ward said. As the depth of the damage becomes more clear, additional aid could still be announced, he added, noting that the new money will “move south” since the “flood is moving south.”

U.S. agencies are distributing aid with the help of international organizations and approved Pakistani NGOs, which have been screened to ensure they have no ties to extremist Islamic groups, according to Ward. “We’re also going to be using Pakistani NGOs that have particular access to parts of the country where we have not been active before,” he said. “U.S. funds have already been used to help the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees provide tents, clothing, food, clean drinking water and medicine to people displaced by floods,” AFP writes (8/10).

Aid Needs And Delivery Challenges

Aid groups are calling for more aid in Pakistan to prevent deaths because of the flooding, BBC reports. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday “warned of serious threats to the livelihoods and food security of millions,” BBC writes.

“One hundred percent crop losses have been recorded in many areas and tens of thousands of animals have been killed,” FAO said in a statement. “Nearly 700,000 hectares of standing crops are under water or destroyed and in many cases surviving animals are without feed,” according to the statement.

John Holmes, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator, said his agency will aim to raise $500 million initially. “And that’s very much an initial figure probably for the first three months, and that’s based on the best assessments we can do at the moment,” he said. The article also includes feedback from a Red Cross official (8/11).

NPR’s All Things Considered reports on how the ongoing flooding has affected the pace of aid delivery.

“Bad weather has hampered efforts to get aid into the stricken areas, says Mark Ward … Ward says even helicopters used to shuttle in aid packages and run rescue missions have often had difficulty taking off. ‘The real problem has been the rain. None of us have been able to be as visible and get the access that we wanted because everything has been grounded,’ he says.” The piece also looks at the Pakistani government’s response and concerns that militant Islamic groups are “capitalizing on the tragedy” (Northam, 8/10).

“The United Nations refugee agency’s staff on the ground in Pakistan are calling the devastating floods among the most difficult situations they have faced, stressing that the catastrophe is also testing the limits of the country’s emergency response capacity, as well as that of the world body and other agencies,” the U.N. News Centre reports in a story outlining how U.N. agencies have been responding to the crisis.

“For its part, the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO), which is coordinating the international health response in support of the government, is treating tens of thousands of people via mobile and fixed health facilities,” the news service notes (8/10).

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