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Musharraf warns against NGOs skimming Pakistan flood money

Rain hinders rescue efforts in Pakistan's flood-hit south
Karachi (AFP) Sept 10, 2010 - Fresh rains hampered rescue efforts in Pakistan's south Friday as thousands of people trying to leave flood-threatened towns remained stranded, a Sindh provincial irrigation minister said. The catastrophic flooding that has inundated vast swathes of Pakistan, killing 1,760 people so far, has continued to flow south towards the Arabian Sea and still threatens to submerge more towns and villages in its path. "Fresh rains have affected rescue and relief efforts and thousands of people are still stranded in different towns of Dadu district," said southern Sindh's irrigation minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo.

He said that more rain was due Saturday, further endangering the strained river embankments as officials, military and local residents worked to bolster the defences around Dadu district. "Dadu district and the town of Johi are still in danger of flooding, but rain is hampering our mobility to reach out to the maximum people," he added. The devastating floods have left 10 million people without shelter nationwide, according to UN figures, with UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano describing it as "one of the worst humanitarian disasters in UN history".

Some 21 million people have been affected by the floods, which began more than six weeks ago and have dragged on through the fasting month of Ramadan, with more than eight million reliant on aid handouts for survival. Advancing floodwaters continue to threaten parts of Sindh province, with 19 of its 23 districts deluged and 2.8 million people displaced, according to provincial authorities. The UN's development chief for Asia, Ajay Chhibber, has called on the world to respond to Pakistan's crisis and help it rebuild to secure hearts and minds in the insurgency-wracked nation.

Global cash pledges have been slow coming to bolster rescue and relief efforts. Last week the UN said that despite an improvement in aid donations after a visit to Pakistan by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in mid-August, extra pledges had "almost stalled" since a week earlier. An initial relief appeal has been about two-thirds funded, and Chhibber said a second appeal would be launched on September 17, seeking help for the next steps in Pakistan's recovery. Hollywood star Angelina Jolie visited northwest Pakistan this week with the UN's refugee agency to draw world attention to the crisis.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Sept 11, 2010
Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf said people who donated money towards the country's flood relief effort should make sure aid organisations were not creaming off some of the funds.

The retired army general said non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had to ensure that all the money should go to help victims.

Musharraf, who lives in exile in London, is trying to raise money towards flood relief.

"I think they are the worst floods in Pakistan's history," he told BBC radio on Friday.

"I have been a part of flood relief, physically, since the time I was in the army.

"Every five years we have floods in Pakistan of a certain magnitude. But never like this... It's very serious."

Musharraf was asked about fears that donated money might end up getting lost in corruption.

"There is corruption in Pakistan, there is no doubt about it, it is heartbreaking how people are not bothered about the country. They have a lot of money and yet they are corrupt," he said.

"The advice I would like to give is they ought to be careful on who they are giving the money to.

"One thing that I would like to advise when you give your money, a donor or an organisation getting the money, it's good that they show so many hundred thousand dollars collected but we should ask how much is going to the people?

"What is their overheads, what percentage will they deliver to the people? Because I know many NGOs who skim off about 50 percent on overheads and administration costs. That must not be done."

Musharraf said he was intending to form a new party and return to Pakistan before the 2013 general elections to stand for parliament.

"My attention or my involvement is divided. It is relief effort I am talking of. I am going for a telethon the day after tomorrow (Sunday)," he said.

"My focus is here but at the same time I'm launching a political party in the very near future.

"I will go back before the next elections. That's not tied really to the flood situation."

earlier related report
Trade-linked aid to Pakistan tops Europe talks
Brussels (AFP) Sept 11, 2010 - Europe is likely to offer trade-linked aid to help Pakistan battle flood devastation and fears of rising Islamist extremism at an EU summit next week, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

Hosting a two-day informal parley of foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc, EU diplomatic supremo Catherine Ashton said Pakistan needed wide support -- ranging through aid, institution-building, anti-terror assistance, reconstruction and trade.

"Everyone agrees we have to think comprehensively," Ashton said.

"If we want to stabilise Pakistan, so that it doesn't degenerate into extremism and fundamentalism, we have to address the economic consequences of this natural catastrophe," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

After the floods turned some 21 million lives upside down and left 1,760 dead, Ashton suggested special exemptions from trade tariffs.

"It is in the vital strategic interest of the European Union to help Pakistan in the longterm with trade," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague as the talks wound down.

"I hope there will be agreement on it" at the September 16 summit, he added. "There has been really strong support from the foreign ministers for some decisive action to be taken."

EU leaders will have three options to ease Pakistani goods into Europe -- offering duty-free access on some goods, deciding a unilateral waiver with WTO agreement, or lowering Most Favoured Nation tariff on some products.

Most EU nations favoured a waiver for a limited list of products, diplomatic sources said.

The European Commission, which polices EU trade matters, asked ministers to consider ditching tariff barriers on 13 types of textile product, in an effort to kick-start an economic fightback.

"We cannot stand on the sidelines," said Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere, after the issue of "how we'll do it" was passed up from trade to foreign ministers.

The idea of preferential treatment caused consternation within the industry.

A European association of textile producers (Euratex) articulated fierce resistance.

Euratex told EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht last week that the "Pakistani government is (repeatedly) using all sorts of excuses to demand free access to the EU market," citing the "fight against terrorism, economic crisis and now the floods".

It said Pakistan is "already a major world player" on a par with India or China, and warned that unilateral EU moves "will certainly be attacked" in the WTO and could "seriously jeopardise" negotiations on a free-trade deal with New Delhi.

According to an EU source, though, the list of product areas qualifying for exemptions was drawn up with likely objections in mind, and aimed at providing some 25 million euros of annual benefits to Pakistan.

Europe has also been criticised by humanitarian organisations for struggling to produce a coherent, collective position on Pakistan.




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Eid brings little joy to Pakistan's flood refugees
Hyderabad, Pakistan (AFP) Sept 10, 2010
"Our life is worse than death. Eid is for the living, but we are neither alive nor dead," says a solemn 15-year-old Rukhsana, approaching this year's Muslim holiday with sad defeat. "We have no clothes, no food, no shoes and no home. My brother is small, he can't fight the looters who snatch all the food from the aid trucks," she says. Abandoned by her father after her mother died, the t ... read more

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