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US to give $190 mln to Pakistan flood fund

by Staff Writers
Islamabad (AFP) Jan 6, 2011
US special envoy to Pakistan Frank Ruggiero, announced Thursday $190 million aid for victims of last year's floods, fulfilling a pledge by his predecessor Richard Holbrooke who died last month.

Speaking to reporters alongside Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Ruggiero said the money would go towards the government's cash compensation scheme offering $1,000 for the 1.6 million families worst-hit by the floods.

"I'm pleased to be here today to fulfil a pledge made by my former boss and Pakistan's great friend, Special Representative Richard Holbrooke," said Ruggiero, on his first visit to Pakistan since taking up his new post.

"I know that Ambassador Holbrooke would have wanted to make this announcement personally as he was very committed to responding to the needs of the flood victims.

"It will used in a very transparent way... and it will be transferred to needy people," he said.

The compensation fund has been dogged by reports of mismanagement and the World Bank has imposed strict conditions before it backs the scheme, which US officials said must be met before the announced money could be dispersed.

American money for the fund is part of a $500 million accelerated package diverted from a three-year $7.5 billion aid bill agreed in Washington.

Shaikh welcomed the funds and paid tribute to Holbrooke, who died on December 14 after suffering a torn aorta.

"He was a great friend of Pakistan and had a particular passion for helping Pakistani people. This particular initiative was a drive by him to get money quickly into the hands of those flood affected people who need to rebuild their lives," he said.

Catastrophic monsoon rains that swept north to south in July and August affected 21 million people, consumed entire villages, wiped out agricultural land and destroyed industries in the country's worst ever natural disaster.

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