Disaster management experts say UN contribution to Pakistan is peanuts


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (eTN) – The United Nations has launched its Rapid Response Plan in Pakistan on the appeal made by the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, but disaster management circles and experts are calling US$356 million plan as being worth peanuts for the havoc Pakistan is facing. Experts are criticizing the government of Pakistan for accepting this very small amount to deal with a disaster that displaced around 6 million people.

According to insiders, President Asif Ali Zardari called UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after visiting affected areas of the province and Sindh and requested UN Secretary General to generate funds from the international community to help the victims.

UN and government sources are claiming that it is an initial plan for emergency needs, which will be reviewed after a month to assess actual needs once complete destruction and damage data has been compiled from the affected areas.

The Rapid Response Plan 2011 was launched at the capital of Pakistan by Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations Timo Pakkala and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan.

Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan confirmed that heavy rainfall had affected 23 districts of Sindh and 5 districts of Balochistan. She said 342 precious lives had been lost due to the floods, while 633 persons were injured and millions of people were vulnerable to different diseases, particularly acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, malaria, and infections. “More than 7.1 million people have been directly affected, out of which 491,000 people have been accommodated in 2,618 relief camps,” Dr. Firdous said.

According to an initial estimation, around 1.3 million houses have been damaged and over 6 million acres of land, including 2 million acres of cultivated land, have been affected.

Timo Pakkala said the Rapid Response Plan was basically for 91 projects identified initially to provide shelter, food, medicines ,and clean drinking water in the affected areas. He said the UN had already started supplying food, shelter, medicines, and other basic needs of life to the flood-affected areas without waiting for the funds to be generated.

Pakkala said this plan was for the initial response to the victims and would be reviewed after 45 days to revise the needs and demands of the people of the affected areas. Giving some details, he said, with the present resources of the Pakistan government, only 30 percent of shelters could be provided to the homeless victims.

He said out of 5.44 million affected people, there were 2.60 million women and 1.96 million children, while 1.8 million people had been displaced and 1.0 million houses had been damaged. He said 64 percent of people in the flood-affected areas were without clean drinking water, while 67 percent of the food stock had been destroyed. He said 70 percent of the crops in the area had been damaged, while 280,000 families had lost their livestock.

Timo Pakkala said so far no country had announced its pledge under the Rapid Response Plan 2011 and that some of the countries had already announced their donations before. He clarified that it would be up to the donor countries if they wanted to contribute directly on a bilateral basis or through the Rapid Response Plan.

He said the Rapid Response Plan was meant to provide immediate relief and after its revision, a fresh plan would be prepared for reconstruction, rehabilitation, and improvement of other basic facilities to the flood victims.