GENEVA: Funding for the UN aid appeal to help victims of the devastating floods has reached $227.8 million or 50 per cent of the total target sum, the UN said on Wednesday.
“We have received $227.8 million or 50 percent of the appeal,” spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Elisabeth Byrs said.
“It’s good news but we need to continue the rhythm of the last few days and not lower our guard because millions of people are desperately expecting help,” she said, adding that aid agencies needed to redouble their efforts as the “situation remains dramatic.”
On Monday, the world body had collected just 20 per cent of the $460 million targeted to help millions across the country affected by the floods.
But the pace has accelerated during the last two days, after aid agencies warned they were running out of resources to deal with the historic disaster.
Adding direct bilateral aid and funds from humanitarian non-governmental groups to multi-lateral financing, Byrs noted that total international aid had reached $313.8 million on Wednesday.
“We are prioritzing the funds which have come in – shelter is the top priority, followed by food, heath and sanitation, ” Stacey Winstion, from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told The Express Tribune.
Representative of UNHCR, Billie Bieling, said UNHCR has established three distribution hubs in Peshawar, Charsaada and offices in Kohat and swat. “We must not forget Pakistan still hosts Afghan refugee families in Peshawar, out of which 65,000 have been affected.”
“Although UNHCR set up in Pakistan for Afghan Refugees, others are also in need of help and everyone needs to be treated equally,” Bieling told The Express Tribune.
Marcus Prior from the World Food Programme (WFP) said that WFP continues to battle the needs of 6 million affected people. “There is food till the end of August and beginning of September. We need to start collecting from today for the near future,” he said.
Meanwhile, additional aid has been gradually pouring in from different parts of the world. The European Union announced on Wednesday that it would provide an additional $39 million in emergency relief assistance to flood-stricken Pakistan, bringing its total aid to $90 million. European humanitarian aid commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, will travel to the affected areas of Pakistan on Monday to meet with authorities, relief experts and survivors of the floods, the European Commission said.
According to the US embassy in Islamabad the US government has so far provided approximately $90 million to support flood relief efforts in Pakistan. On Wednesday, a US Air Force C-130 aircraft, based in Afghanistan, delivered 60,000 pounds of food and relief supplies from Rawalpindi to Sukkur. Four additional US Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters arrived the same day bringing to 15 the total number of US military helicopters in Pakistan while 3 US civilian aircraft are also participating in the relief operation.
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) also on Wednesday called on member states and the international community for urgent aid for Pakistan.
(ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MAHA MUSSADAQ AND ASIM AWAN)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2010.