Monday, 23 August 2010

Pakistan floods - an ungenerous response?

Three weeks after the monsoon floods were unleashed on Pakistan, Louis-Georges Arsenault, director of emergency services for UN agency UNICEF, has blasted the international response as “extraordinarily” inadequate.

M Arsenault says this is the biggest humanitarian crisis “in decades.” The UN had called for around £300m in emergency aid, and says it has raised nearly 70% of this, but the Pakistan government says the cost of rebuilding could be as high as £10bn, and up to 17m people have been hit by the floods.

So if the response has been rather lukewarm, what are the reasons? One offered is that the death toll has been relatively small - “only” about 1,600 compared with around ¼ million in the Haiti earthquake and the Boxing Day tsunami, and that the flood has been a more slowly developing and less dramatic disaster

Then there are said to be worries about corruption, a feeling that oil-rich Muslim countries have failed to do enough, the perception that Pakistan has been an exporter of terrorism, and the global financial crisis. Against that, the people of the UK have stumped up £30m out of their own pockets, and India, which has often believed itself a victim of Pakistani-inspired terrorism, has provided around £3m.

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