ISLAMABAD: As floods continued to wreak havoc in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and western Punjab, foreign assistance has made its way into the country to help those affected by this natural calamity.
The US announced on Sunday that it would make an initial contribution of $10 million in humanitarian assistance to Pakistan for flood relief activities based on priorities identified by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
US Embassy spokesperson Richard Snelsire said that on NDMA’s request, early on Sunday, US aircrews aboard a US Air Force C-130 and a C-17 flew into Chaklala Airbase, Rawalpindi, and delivered about 50,000 halal meals.
Hassan Zulfiqar, the director of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority met the aircraft at the airbase as they delivered the supplies.
“Thousands of people are marooned in flooded areas. They need immediate assistance, especially food and medicines,” Zulfiqar said. He said the US aid would be a great help.
Snelsire said approximately 62,000 more meals from US supply depots in the region were scheduled for delivery to Pakistan through US airlift, with more coming over the next few days. He said the US was also prepared to earmark additional funds for the effort, if Pakistan were to make a request in this connection.
Snelsire said US assistance to Pakistan’s flood relief efforts have also included four Zodiac inflatable rescue boats, two water filtration units, and 12 prefabricated steel bridges.
He said that the bridges would temporarily replace highway bridges damaged by flooding in Peshawar and Kurram Agency. He said that the US had provided helicopters to support the Ministry of Interior’s (MOI) rescue operations, and added that food and water also had been ferried to people still not able to leave the flood areas.
Meanwhile, China announced on Sunday that it will deliver humanitarian aid worth 10 million Yuan, approximately $1.48 million (about one tenth of what the Americans are offering), to Pakistan. China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said the aid was meant to help Pakistan fight the flooding and rescue victims.
The World Food Programme also started food distributions to 35,000 families hit by catastrophic flooding in parts of the north. According to an official WFP statement, distributions of emergency food supplies were given to 3,000 families in three of the worst affected districts – Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda .
On Saturday, the European Union had announced it would give Pakistan 30 million Euros in humanitarian aid to help with flood relief efforts.
In Abud Dhabi, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan assured President Zardari of his government’s full cooperation and financial assistance to help Pakistan at a difficult time. The assurance was given at a meeting between the two. Meanwhile, France expressed solidarity with the people of Pakistan as deadly floods cast a cloud over a visit to Paris by the suffering country’s president. “I learned with great emotion of the tragic toll of floods in northwest Pakistan,” said Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. (Additional input from Agencies)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2010.