Latest update: 20/08/2010
- floods - Pakistan - United Nations
Donors pledge more aid for flood-stricken Pakistan after UN meeting
Washington led the way Thursday with a promise of a further $60 million in humanitarian aid to help flood-stricken Pakistan following a UN meeting, the UK quickly followed suit promising to double its contribution to $100 million.
REUTERS - The United States led a stream of new aid pledges for flood-stricken Pakistan on Thursday, promising a further $60 million to rectify a humanitarian response that has been criticized as too slow.
"With a new pledge that I am making today of $60 million, the United States will be contributing more than $150 million toward emergency flood relief," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the U.N. General Assembly.
About $92 million of that total is in direct support of the U.N. relief plan, she added during a debate aimed at pressing for more contributions to the plan.
More than 4 million Pakistanis have been made homeless by nearly three weeks of floods, the United Nations has said, making the critical task of securing greater amounts of aid more urgent. Twice that number are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Clinton urged other U.N. member nations to ensure that Pakistan got all the aid it needs. The United Nations has issued an appeal for $459 million, of which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said about 60 percent had been pledged.
"I realize that many countries, including my own, are facing tough economic conditions and very tight budgets," Clinton said. "We've also endured an unrelenting stream of disasters this year, from the earthquake in Haiti to wildfires in Russia. But we must work to answer the Pakistani request for help."
"I want the people of Pakistan to know," she said. "The United States will be with you through this crisis."
Pakistan is a critical ally for the United States in a war against Taliban and al Qaeda fighters along the Afghan border. Some commentators have compared U.S. flood aid with the billions given to Islamabad to help battle the militants.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said what he called the worst monsoon floods in living memory had presented a challenge that was "far too high for any developing country to handle alone."
He said the losses from the floods were coming on top of some $43 billion lost due to the fight against terrorism in Pakistan. He acknowledged that the initial aid response was too slow, due to a lack of awareness about the scale of the disaster, but said he was now satisfied.
"I'm going back to Pakistan reassured that the international community stands by Pakistan," he told reporters after addressing the assembly. "The initial ($459 million appeal) is going to be easily met."
Other countries followed the U.S. lead in pledging more funds. British Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, who called the international response so far to the Pakistani floods "woefully inadequate," said London was doubling its contribution to nearly $100 million.
Qureshi said he expected Saudi Arabia would announce total aid of $100 million along with close to $40 million in private donations.
Speaking for the European Union, Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere promised a further 30 million euros ($38.5 million) on top of 110 million euros already committed.
Earlier, Qureshi said Pakistan would "revisit" its budget because of the floods.
Speaking at a conference at New York's Asia Society to publicize Pakistan's plight, he said Islamabad would use all its resources to tackle the impact of the flooding.
Western nations have been among the main foreign donors so far. The U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, told reporters at the New York meeting that Pakistan's neighbor China "should step up to the plate."
Qureshi defended China, saying it had given cash and provided food and shelter for some 27,000 people cut off in northern Pakistan.
"If you put it all together, it's substantial," he said.