U.S. Expands Support for Pakistan Flood Relief
Washington — The United States is continuing to expand assistance and development programs in flood-stricken Pakistan, providing temporary bridges and mobilizing significant civilian and military resources to rescue victims of the flooding and deliver much-needed supplies, U.S. officials say.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, since the flooding began at the end of July, U.S. civilian and military aircraft have evacuated at least 7,835 people and delivered more than 1.6 million pounds (725,750 kilos) of relief supplies. “The United States also is providing millions of dollars of additional in-kind and technical assistance,” the embassy said in a prepared statement August 23.
Facing the worst monsoon flooding in 80 years, more than 6 million people have been left homeless, from the mountainous north to the low-lying plains in the south, and water levels are still rising. Officials estimate 20 million Pakistanis have been affected by the floods. Authorities are hopeful that the flood waters will reach their crest and begin draining into the Arabian Sea within the coming days.
“The United States is providing approximately $150 million to support relief efforts in Pakistan, including funding for the operations of the Pakistan National Disaster Management Authority, the U.N.’s emergency relief plan, and the many local and international organizations responding to this disaster,” the embassy said.
The World Food Programme has reached more than 1.3 million flood-affected people with approximately 16,000 metric tons of food aid, and approximately 50 percent of that assistance was provided by the United States.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided the World Food Programme with an additional $32.2 million so local and regional authorities can buy food, which brings the total U.S. contribution for food assistance to more than $51 million.
Since August 8, U.S. water treatment units have provided about 4.8 million liters of safe drinking water, the embassy said.
Pakistani officials met August 23 in Washington with officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to seek ways to maintain economic stability in the aftermath of flooding damage to the country’s farm sector and its infrastructure. Farming is the mainstay of the Pakistan economy and has been the hardest hit. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said August 19 that 1.7 million acres of planted cropland and all related livestock have been lost.
The flooding will “pose a massive economic challenge to the people and government of Pakistan,” Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, said in a prepared statement August 21. “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.”
IMF Managing-Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in a recent letter that the “IMF stands with Pakistan at this difficult time and will do its part to help the country.”
The World Health Organization is closely monitoring the crisis in Pakistan to direct responses to the outbreak of disease. The WHO said approximately 1,500 people have been reported killed and more than 2,000 injured. Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority has reported that more than 1 million homes have been destroyed.
At a State Department briefing August 23, Dan Feldman, the U.S. deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters that power plants in Pakistan are under water, which contributes to an already difficult situation for people trying to stay in their homes.
During his recent trip to Pakistan, Feldman said, it was quite clear that an immense amount of immediate relief is needed, and the longer-term recovery and reconstruction efforts will take many months if not years to complete.
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