Flood response ‘sluggish’, say Oxfam

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‘Mega disaster needs mega response’, says charity

OXFAM has described the response to the Pakistan floods as ‘sluggish’ saying the ‘world needs to mount a mega response’ to ensure millions affected get the help they need.

Almost 14 million people are now affected by the floods in Pakistan according to latest figures, and that number is likely to increase with water now surging south into Sindh Province.

The UN has described the floods as the world’s “worst” current disaster but Oxfam said compared with other recent crises the speed of the response to Pakistan’s flooding has been “sluggish”.

According to the UN’s financial tracking system, less than $45m has been committed to the disaster, an equivalent to just $3.20 committed per flood affected person.  

It is a figure which pales in comparison to the amounts committed by other crises, Oxfam said.

Within the first 10 days of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, which left some 3.5m people homeless, the international community had committed $247m and pledged $45m. This works out to $70 committed per person, 10 days into the crisis.

In the first 10 days after Cyclone Nargis, which affected 2.4m when it struck off the coast of Myanmar, almost $110m was committed (and $109m pledged) in the first 10 days. This works out at $46 committed per person.

Likewise some $742m was committed to Haiti 10 days after the quake and $920 million pledged. Some 1.5m were directly affected by the quake, which works out at $495 per person, in funds committed, in the first 10 days.

Neva Khan, Oxfam country director in Pakistan said: “The rains are continuing and each hour that passes the flooding is multiplying misery across the entire country. Swathes of Pakistan are still under-water and people have seen homes, shops, schools and crops flattened. The world must not leave these people stranded. This is a mega disaster and it needs a mega response.”

To date only five donors – USA, Australia, UK, Italy and Kuwait – have committed or pledged more than $5m in new funding in response to the crisis.

Khan continued: “We have all been shocked by the ferocity and magnitude of this disaster. Everyone – donors, the UN, aid agencies, the government  – all of us need to shift gear on this crisis. The people here are living in desperate conditions. This is the biggest disaster in the world right now and we all need to get behind it.”

The UN is setting up a humanitarian coordination centre in Islamabad, and will launch a comprehensive plan for the disaster in the coming days. The Pakistan government has announced that it will send delegations to other countries to seek financial support for flood-affected people.

To make a donation to the DEC Pakistan appeal call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, visit http://www.dec.org.uk or donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word GIVE to 70707

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