World powers made fresh aid pledges for Pakistan’s flood disaster on Sunday, after a $2 billion UN appeal, but pressed the stricken nation to fully account for the money.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an “urgent” global response to “one of the biggest, most complex natural disasters we have faced in the history of the United Nations.”
While the official death toll remains at over 1,700 people, UN agencies say about 21 million people have been affected and 12 million need emergency food aid.
Britain doubled its flood aid to $210 million, the United States said it is now offering 340 million and the European Union 350 million.
Saudi Arabia said it has also donated 345 million in government and public funds. Even Iran allotted $100 million for its neighbour. But it was not immediately clear whether the $2 billion target was reached at the meeting of over 25 top ministers, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Aid groups expressed disappointment at the response. The UN asked for $460 million in August but quadrupled the figure on Friday because of the scope of the disaster.
Britain added £70 million to its existing £64 million in emergency aid, taking the total to about 210 million dollars. “Grave challenges lie ahead as people in Pakistan begin to recover from the floods,” said Britain’s International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, announcing the biggest single new offer of the meeting.
Clinton said the United States has already provided about $345 million in assistance, through cash, emergency relief and rescue work by US forces usually operating in Pakistan to back up the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. She highlighted, however, that Pakistan must becoming more self-sufficient and raise more domestic money for reconstruction. Clinton said the United States would help its ally “bring transparency, oversight and accountability to the reconstruction.”
Other major donors also pressed for more transparency to tackle rampant corruption in Pakistan. “It is critical for the government to ensure full transparency of cash flow,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, Japan’s special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, told the meeting. Germany’s Development Minister Dirk Niebel said Pakistan must be “realistic” and raise more of its own money to rebuild the country.
Qureshi vowed that “every dollar will be spent in the most efficient manner and the most transparent and accountable manner.” He said economic reforms were being undertaken to raise more money from the Pakistani population to rebuild the country.
Surendrini Wijeyaratne, a policy advisor for Oxfam, said the aid community felt “let down” by the UN appeal, saying it was insufficient to cover Pakistan’s needs and lamenting that donor countries often delay putting the money in the bank, thus preventing critical relief work from going ahead.