UN refreshes aid to Pakistan

Published: September 21, 2010
A child looks on while standing in front of a tent at a relief camp in Charsadda. PHOTO: REUTERS

A child looks on while standing in front of a tent at a relief camp in Charsadda. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has mounted a fresh airlift of shelter materials in order to reach more people affected by the floods. According to a report issued by the UN on Monday, two cargo aircrafts off-loaded plastic sheeting sufficient to meet the needs of more than 180, 000 people.

Mosquito nets for more than 450, 000 people were also included in Monday’s airlift operation. The purchase and delivery of the relief items was funded by the UK Department for International Development as part of an urgent £ 1 billion grant towards UNHCR’s initial $ 120 million appeal. The UN High Commissioner, Antonio Guterres, visited the flood affected areas and called on the international community to do more to help.

“Nobody was prepared for such a level of destruction and for such difficult conditions for the people affected,” Guterres told journalists after seeing the devastation for himself. “Everybody is doing their best, but the best everyone is doing cannot match the dramatic needs that we are facing.”

The High Commissioner appealed to the international community for “a stronger engagement and stronger support for us all to do better and to do more.” Up till now, the UNHCR has delivered shelter materials to more than 1 million people affected by the floods in Kyhber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab provinces. To-date, aid agencies providing tents and plastic sheetings have so far reached only 18 per cent of the people in need.

The UN released a revised inter-appeal on Friday seeking more than $2 billion to provide relief and fund recovery operations throughout the vast region affected by the flooding. Water continues to course across the low-lying areas of southern Pakistan’s Sindh Province, inundating villages. While some areas are seeing water levels decline, many people in the province still cannot return home. Across Sindh, the number of people now forced into temporary accommodation and makeshift camps stands at more than 1.4 million. The UNHCR is expanding its relief operation in Sindh, where it has already distributed shelter materials for more than 128,000 people as well as family kits containing cooking sets, blankets and other items. “My hope is that the international community will understand the needs and fully correspond to the dramatic situation,” Guterres said. “All entities working on flood response need much stronger support from the international community.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2010.

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