The Obama administration is increasing its emergency aid to Pakistan as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls upon other nations to step up humanitarian assistance to the flood-ravaged country.
“Frustration and donor fatigue are understandable given the myriad calamities in the headlines, but they are not good options,” Eric Schwartz, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration said yesterday. ”There’s no question that the world economic situation has had an impact on the ability of many governments around the world to give and give generously.”
Schwartz said the U.S. will pledge more money to Pakistan as donations trail the response to the Haiti earthquake. Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who is visiting Pakistan, said U.S. aid will increase to $150 million, the Associated Press reported.
Clinton will address the United Nations General Assembly at 4 p.m. today in New York to discuss Pakistan’s need for more help.
The Asian Development Bank said today it will extend $2 billion to Pakistan to help with rehabilitation and reconstruction work.
Half the Assistance
The UN has received two thirds of the initial $460 million it has asked for in relief, even though the 20 million people affected by the floods exceed the combined total of those displaced by the 2004 Asian tsunami and the earthquakes in Haiti. The economic slump and a death toll that is a fraction of the Haiti casualties may have curbed enthusiasm to donate.
“People are having more trouble caring about Pakistan,” said Waleed Rauf, an aid worker in Pakistan for CARE, one of the biggest non-profit organizations in the area. “It definitely arouses mixed feelings in people. We have barely scratched the surface in terms of aid needed.”
By Aug. 11, $58 million had been contributed to United Nations and international aid agencies in response to the floods that began late July. That compares with $241 million raised in the two weeks after the Haiti earthquake, according to CARE.
In Haiti, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake destroyed parts of Haiti and killed more than 200,000. In Pakistan, the worst floods in decades have put one-fifth of the country underwater, destroyed $13 billion worth of crops, farms, railroad and towns. More than 3 million children are at risk of contracting deadly water-borne diseases such as cholera, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund in New York.
Unlike the record response to Haiti, Americans don’t appear as moved by the plight of the Pakistanis. About 3.1 million Americans using mobile phones donated $10 each to the American Red Cross, raising about $31 million. A similar campaign to raise contributions for Pakistan produced about $10,000.
“These are different kinds of disasters,” said State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley in a briefing in Washington. “You had an earthquake and, you know, tragic as it was, it happened, it ended, and then we have been dealing with the impact of that ever since.”
The U.S. has led the way in donations for Pakistan with $90 million, followed by the U.K. with $48.5 million. Others haven’t been as generous. Japan, for example, sent $10 million. France pledged $1 million, matching Afghanistan’s contribution.
International efforts have been “lamentable” and “absolutely pitiful,” U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said on Aug. 16. The U.K.’s International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell today said the amount of money collected was still “woefully inadequate.”