As the number of people affected by the floods in Sindh and Balochistan reached 8.7 million, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said the government is committed to mobilising all available resources for relief work.
In a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the prime minister focused on the floods that have devastated 23 districts in Sindh and five in Balochistan. “There can be no room for negligence in addressing the problems faced by the flood-affected population,” he said.
Gilani said he would monitor the relief work daily. Cabinet members have also decided to donate a month’s salary to the PM’s Relief Fund. However, the prime minister’s relief fund for last year still has Rs5 billion, which has not been utilised due to bureaucratic red tape.
Addressing a press conference after the cabinet meeting, Information and Broadcasting Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said the magnitude of the disaster is vast and the government is trying its best to cope with the challenge. “We should not depend on the world and move towards self reliance,” said Awan. “We need to engage civil society, sportsmen and the entire country for fundraising,” she added.
Sluggish funding is a major obstacle in relief efforts. Earlier this week, the United Nations launched an international appeal for a total of $357 million to cater to the emergency needs for the next three months.
Unfortunately however, no significant pledges have been made by the international community.
According to figures released by the Foreign Office, China has pledged $4.7 million for flood relief of which only $50,000 has been disbursed. Japan has pledged $450,000 in relief assistance and Iran has promised to send two planes with relief goods. Japan and Iran have yet to disburse funds or goods.
Nawaz Sharif visits Mirpurkhas
PML-N president Nawaz Sharif called for focused efforts to help those affected by the floods in Sindh.
He was talking to journalists during his visit to a relief camp in Satellite Town and Ring Road on Wednesday.
Sharif said he was not there for political reasons, but to serve the affected people for whom he would come “again and again”.
The Punjab law minister, who was accompanying Sharif, said: “We are with our Sindhi brothers.”
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2011.
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