According to Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the cost of rebuilding his devastated country could be in the region of 10 to 15 billion dollars. This gives an idea about the scale of the disaster, which has affected 20 million people.
But before rebuilding can begin, the immediate focus remains on providing emergency shelters, water and food to millions of people. It is estimated that only 25% of those affected have so far received any ‘significant’ help. And both aid workers and reporters speak of growing desperation around the camps and food distribution points.
The humanitarian director of Oxfam, Jane Cocking has just returned from a visit to Pakistan and reported that the scenes there are the worst she has witnessed in her aid career of more than two decades. The director referred to the ‘multiple’ disasters which have combined to give the catastrophe ‘the scale of the [Asian] tsunami, the devastation of Haiti and the complexity of the Middle East’. And she urged the public to keep giving.
The chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee [DEC], Brendan Gormley, reported that the appeal for Pakistan has now raised 30 million pounds. And for the first time in DEC history, more money has been donated in the second week of the appeal than in the first week. (Money donated for the Haiti and Asian tsunami appeals dropped off by 20% and 50% respectively in the second week.) Mr Gormley said that the UK public had been deeply moved and were ‘digging deeper’ in their pockets as the tragedy continued to unfold on their screens. Over the last weekend, 5 million pounds was donated and the DEC are hoping for sustained giving through the third week. With such generosity, Mr Gormley stated the UK public was ‘shaming politicians across the world’.
International donors are being urged to provide further pledges of financial assistance by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which today admitted that its request for 41 million dollars will not be enough to provide the aid required by around 2 million people over the next four months. The UNHCR is now seeking 120 million, as field workers from encampments across the Sindh province warn of dwindling supplies.
The Pakistani army has requisitioned helicopters from the ongoing fighting in Afghanistan to carry supplies across flooded areas and has now deployed around 60,000 of its 550,000 troops in assisting with relief efforts. And according to the High Commissioner, Mr Hasan, 85,000 people had been rescued by the navy. He urged the international community to recognise that the Pakistani government was doing its best given the scale of the disaster and hoped that his country would be helped to rebuild in the future with ‘something like the Marshall Plan’.