Pakistan Sees Increase in Donations as 'Slow-Motion Tsunami' Unfolds

Pakistan Sees Increase in Donations as 'Slow-Motion Tsunami' Unfolds

Even as the flow of donations to flood-ravaged Pakistan increases, aid workers are struggling to provide assistance in the wake of one of the worst natural disasters in decades, ClimateWire reports.

At a special meeting held by the United Nations last Thursday — World Humanitarian Day — the 192-member body adopted a resolution calling for international assistance in support of the Pakistani government's efforts to address the crisis, while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States would double its aid to the stricken country to $150 million. Clinton also urged corporations and individuals to donate money online to the Department of State's Pakistan Relief Fund or to donate $10 to relief efforts via mobile phone by sending the text message "flood" to the short-code 27722.

Other countries responding to the appeal include the United Kingdom, which increased its total contribution to flood relief efforts to $100 million, up from $40 million, and announced that an additional $25 million has been raised from private donors in the UK; Germany, which committed €25 million ($31.7 million); Saudi Arabia, which has pledged $100 million; and India, which, in a rare gesture of goodwill toward its long-time rival, pledged $5 million.

For its part, the U.S. military has distributed more than 400,000 meals from warehouses in Dubai as well as a million pounds of supplies, including enough shelter material for 100,000 people, while the World Food Program said it has distributed enough food rations to meet the needs of more than a million people for a month. But with more than 17 million acres of farmland inundated by water, aid experts warned of impending food and disease crises in the country. Speaking at the UN meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that Pakistan is facing a "slow-motion tsunami" and that 15 million to 20 million people are already in need of shelter, food, and emergency care, with that number expected to grow. "Make no mistake: this is a global disaster, a global challenge," said Ban. "It is one of the greatest tests of global solidarity in our times."

Meanwhile, experts are looking into why the flooding in Pakistan has been so severe, with UN and Pakistani officials pointing to climate change, deforestation, intensive land-use practices, and mismanagement of the Indus River as the major factors. "Climate change, with all its severity and unpredictability, has become a reality for 170 million Pakistanis," said Pakistani foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his appeal for aid at the UN meeting. "The present situation in Pakistan reconfirms our extreme vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change."

Asif Shahzad. "Pakistan Accepts Indian Aid for Flood Relief." Associated Press 08/20/2010. "General Assembly Hears Calls for Global Solidarity to Help Flood-Hit Pakistan." United Nations Press Release 08/19/2010. Nathanial Gronewold. "Flood Disaster May Require Largest Aid Effort in Modern History." ClimateWire 08/20/2010.