UN says Pakistanis need help now
Yes, evil, infidel West, please come to our aid. We will forgive that you are not part of the great Islam religion and we welcome all your money, food and relief assistance now. We know that we have not been kind to you in the past but all is forgiven now that we need your help. Please give us your tax money and food supplies to feed our hungry children and breast-feeding women. Please ignore that the Taliban is in control and is causing untold grief in the area and surrounding countries. Please ignore that India, China and other Islam countries have not rushed to our assistance with their money and support. We need you and your money now. Once the crisis is over we will once again revert to our extremism but for now we need your help….Don’t all rush at once. Hey UN – please catch a wake-up. We are sick and tired of helping these ungrateful countries. Maybe that’s why no one cares about what’s happening in Pakistan. When they care about us infedels maybe we’ll care about them.
Sukkur – The World Bank said on Tuesday it will redirect $900m of its existing loans to Pakistan to help in flood recovery, as the UN warned that many of the 20 million people affected by the disaster have yet to receive any emergency aid.
The floods began three weeks ago but the crisis could yet worsen, with authorities warning that the swollen Indus River may burst its banks again in coming days.
Pakistan’s shaky government has been sorely tested by the disaster, which has affected about a fifth of the area of the vast country of 170 million people.
It comes atop a pile of other challenges including a weak economy and a violent Islamist insurgency.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari acknowledged on Tuesday that the government had responded poorly to the widespread flooding. Zardari’s reputation sank to new lows after he chose to visit Europe as the crisis was unfolding.
“Yes, the situation could have been better. Yes, the arrangements could have been made better. Yes, everything could have been better. Alas! If we could have those resources,” he told local aid groups in a meeting.
“We have to move forward despite whatever criticism we get.”
Local charities and international agencies have rushed food, water, shelter and medical treatment to the worst-hit areas in the northwest and Punjab and Sindh provinces.
Only 40% of aid
But aid agencies and the British government have complained that the international response to the disaster has not been generous enough.
The UN appealed last week for $459m for immediate relief efforts. It has received 40% – about $184m – of that so far, said Maurizio Giuliano, a UN spokesperson.
An additional $43m has been pledged.
“We would like our pledges to turn into checks as soon as possible because the situation is getting very bad,” Giuliano told The Associated Press.
The World Bank said the funds it is offering are to help Pakistan recover from the floods and would be redirected from ongoing and planned projects in the country.
With huge destruction of roads and bridges and crops wiped out in many areas, authorities expect reconstruction to take years and cost billions.
For now, many victims are living in makeshift camps alongside their livestock or in flooded towns and villages.
“The vast geographical extent of the floods and affected populations meant that many people have yet to be reached with the assistance they desperately need,” the UN said in a statement.
It also said the number of children and breast-feeding mothers affected and rising diarrhoea cases “point toward a clear risk of malnutrition among the affected population”.
Food prices up
The floods have killed about 1 500 people and inundated 700 000ha of wheat, sugar cane and rice crops, raising the prospect of food shortages in the coming months in the already-poor nation. Prices of food have risen sharply since the floods began.
Authorities in Sindh province said more floods were likely over the next 24 to 48 hours. “The next two days are crucial for the safety of people,” said Sindh’s irrigation minister, Jam Saifullah Dharejo.
Anne Patterson, the US ambassador to Pakistan, said on Tuesday that America had committed at least $87m in aid and expected to give more in the coming days.
More US helicopters are expected to join the 19 already dispatched to help ferry stranded Pakistanis and deliver food and other items, US officials said.
Patterson said it was too soon to fully understand the scale of the disaster, including its impact on the Taliban and al-Qaeda-led insurgency on Pakistani soil. But she downplayed concerns that Islamist extremists are winning flood victims’ support through their own relief activities.
“To be blunt, I think these stories about extremist organisations being the only players out there are greatly exaggerated,” Patterson told a news conference in Islamabad.