Today the UK government has announced it will be doubling its aid money for Pakistan, where the floods have affected an area greater than the size of England. An extra 70 million pounds will be donated, on top of the 64 million already pledged. The UK’s International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said the extra money will go towards helping children revive their education, since up to 8,000 schools are now thought to have been damaged or destroyed. The money will also be needed for replacing grain and seeds, so the vital planting season in November can go ahead.
Though Mr Mitchell spoke of getting people back on their feet, much international aid is still being spent on keeping people alive, as an estimated 8 million people rely on handouts for their everyday survival. On Friday, the United Nations issued a new call to its member states for 2 billion dollars. This is the amount now required to deal with the “largest natural disaster appeal in UN history”.
80 per cent of the 460 million dollars already requested by the UN for emergency aid has been received. But more is needed to cover supplies and services for around 14 million people over the next 12 months. UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said “We simply cannot stand by and watch the immense suffering in a disaster of this scale.” Money from the revised appeal would not only help to support the current humanitarian operation, but also go towards projects in agriculture, shelter, community restoration, education and health. Damage to infrastructure is immense and rural livelihoods are in danger, with irrigation, drainage and storage facilities badly affected.
And Baroness Amos was quick to point out that, even now, the damage is not over as the disaster continues to evolve. New areas of Sindh are being flooded as embankments to lakes and rivers are breached. One of the BBC’s correspondents has been travelling through flood affected areas and has just reached the city of Sukkur. Flood victims continue to arrive there as further villages are submerged along the Indus river. Over 200 camps have already been established across the district and the UN World Food Programme has set up a large distribution centre here. But the number of people in need is vast and growing.
This UN centre is serving over a million of the seven million people in Sindh and another million are estimated to have left their homes over recent days. This huge displacement of families, many of them incredibly poor to begin with and able to salvage little in the way of their belongings, means this disaster is the most challenging of recent times. This is why the UN has called for more aid. One man in Camp Number 3 of Kairpur, Sindh Province, who lost his wife in the floods and is now left to look after his four children, spoke movingly to Oxfam and summed up the situation: “We have nothing to eat. We used to have buffaloes, cows and goats, but all was lost in the flood. Whatever we had at home is all gone. The flood has actually destroyed our lives. We are poor people and now we have nothing.”