The floods that have engulfed Pakistan over the last week are a mega disaster, and the world needs to mount a mega response to ensure the millions affected get the help they need, international aid organization Oxfam said today as it called for a ramped up response to the crisis. To date only five donors – USA, Australia, UK, Italy, and Kuwait – have committed or pledged more than $5 million in new funding in response to the crisis.
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 of southeastern Pakistan. The UN now describes the floods as the world’s “worst” current disaster, but compared to other recent crises, the speed of the response to Pakistan’s flooding has been sluggish. As of Monday, according to the UN’s financial tracking system, less than $45 million has been committed plus $91 million pledged, which breaks down to $3.20 committed per flood affected person.
This pales in comparison with the amounts committed to other crises. Within the first 10 days of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, which left about 3.5 million people homeless, the international community had committed $247 million and pledged $45 million. This works out to $70 committed per person 10 days into the crisis.
In the first 10 days after Cyclone Nargis, which affected 2.4 million when it struck off the coast of Myanmar, almost $110 million was committed (and $109 million pledged) in the first 10 days. This works out to $46 committed per person.
Likewise, about $742 million was committed to Haiti 10 days after the quake and $920 million pledged. More than 1.5 million people were directly affected by the quake, which works out to $495 per person 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. Swaths of Pakistan are still underwater 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.
“We have all been shocked by the ferocity and magnitude of this disaster. Everyone –international donor governments, the UN, aid agencies, the Pakistan 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 center 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.