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Pakistan's 'image deficit' hurts funds appeal: aid workers

Ban Ki-moon urges more aid for Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan (UPI) Aug 16, 2010 - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, after visiting the "heart-wrenching" devastation of flood-stricken Pakistan Sunday, stepped up his appeal for international aid. "This has been a heart-wrenching day, and I will never forget the destruction and suffering that I have witnessed," Ban told reporters Sunday after visiting some of the flood-hit areas. The number of people affected by the disaster has reached nearly 20 million, Ban said. "I have witnessed various disasters across the world, but nothing like this, as the scale of this disaster is so large that one out of every 10 Pakistanis has been affected," he said. "I am here also to urge the world community to speed up assistance to Pakistan."

Ban said only 25 percent of the estimated $459 million in aid needed for initial relief efforts has arrived so far. Ban announced an additional $10 million for the relief efforts, to come from the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund, bringing the total U.N. assistance to $27 million. Ban said he would report to the General Assembly Thursday to mobilize all necessary assistance. The floods, which began to hit Pakistan at the end of July during the monsoon, have now covered at least one-fifth of the country's surface, an area of 62,000 square miles. Heavy rains are expected to continue for a few more weeks. At least 1,600 people have been killed in the disaster, with millions remaining homeless. The United Nations has also increased its estimate for the country's agricultural losses, saying about 8 million acres of standing crops -- or about 17 percent of Pakistan's cultivable area -- and 925,000 head of livestock have been destroyed.

Damage to irrigation systems and the loss of grain stocks, seed and farming equipment have made farmers "extremely vulnerable," the United Nations said, emphasizing that their situation would worsen if they are not able to sow the staple wheat crop in September and October. "If this season is missed … the impact on agricultural livelihoods and household food security will be catastrophic, resulting in long-term dependence on food assistance," the United Nations said in a report Saturday. One case of cholera was confirmed in the northwest part of the country, the United Nations said, and health workers are preparing for an onslaught of up to 140,000 cases of the disease. "With the potential spread of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases, and lack of proper food, millions of children and other vulnerable people could die," said Martin Mogwanja, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Pakistan. "We are confident that the world will not stand by and watch this happen."
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) Aug 16, 2010
Aid agencies are struggling to get funds for millions of Pakistan flood victims because the country suffers from an "image deficit," aid officials said Monday, with some blaming perceived links with the Taliban and terrorism.

The international response to the disaster was described as "pitiful" by Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who said many countries have also failed to grasp the scale of the catastrophe which has affected up to 20 million people.

Elizabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said: "We note often an image deficit with regards to Pakistan among Western public opinion."

As a result, Pakistan is among countries that are poorly financed, like Yemen," she added.

Melanie Brooks, spokeswoman of the aid group Care International insisted that the United Nations must explain to donor states that "the money is not going to go to the hands of the Taliban."

"The victims are the mothers, the farmers, children. But in the past, information linked to Pakistan has always been linked to (the) Taliban and terrorism," she said.

Filipe Ribeiro, the director general of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), also pointed to the "bad press" surrounding Pakistan as a reason for the slow flow of aid funds.

"In the media, Pakistan is clearly a country linked to terrorism and corruption, that there, the victims are not as innocent as others," he added.

The United Nations has been struggling to obtain 460 million dollars to provide emergency aid to six million victims of the country ravaged by heavy flooding.

According to the latest update of funding pledges, the international community has transferred 148 million dollars or 32 percent of the total needed to the UN since the appeal was launched last week.

The United States has made the biggest contribution so far while Britain was the second largest country donor.

The World Bank said Monday it has agreed to provide a 900-million-dollar loan to Pakistan following a request from Islamabad.

Clegg, who has taken day-to-day charge of the government while Prime Minister David Cameron is on holiday, said that while Britain had taken a leading role in the relief effort, other countries needed to do more.

"The response from the international community as a whole, I have to say, has been lamentable. It's been absolutely pitiful," said Clegg.

"One of the reasons may be because this is a disaster on a scale that people are struggling to understand.

"We have already taken a lead in the international effort but we need other people to help."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged the world to speed up aid for the country when he flew in on Sunday to visit areas ravaged by record floods.

According to Pakistani authorities, around a quarter of the country, which extends over 800,000 square kilometres (308,880 square miles) and counts 167 million inhabitants, has been affected by the floods over the last three weeks.

The United Nations estimates that 14 million people have been affected and that 1,600 have died. The government in Islamabad has confirmed 1,384 deaths.

Billions would be needed in the long term to reconstruct the villages, infrastructure and harvests devastated by the floods, the UN said, also warning of the threat of waterborne diseases.

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Misery for the 'doomed orphans' of Pakistan floods
Nowshehra, Pakistan (AFP) Aug 16, 2010
Six million children are suffering from Pakistan's devastating floods: lost, orphaned or stricken with diarrhoea, they are the most vulnerable victims of the nation's worst-ever natural disaster. At relief camps in government schools and colleges and in tent villages on the edge of towns and by roadways, children are prostate from the heat, sick from poor drinking water, or simply trying to ... read more

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