Pakistan floods: Why aid is so slow compared to Haiti earthquake
Pakistan floods have displaced 4 million people, but aid to the country has been at a trickle compared to other catastrophes, such as the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake.
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According to the United Nations, half of the $460 million requested to assist Pakistan in flood recovery efforts has been received, with another $42 million pledged. The US is the largest source of donations, with Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts in the flood-zone announcing yesterday that the US would give $150 million, followed by Britain, donating about $40 million thus far.Skip to next paragraph
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But for large international aid organizations, which usually compete against one another for the chance to lead emergency aid operations, the overall dearth of donations has meant that they are having to play things slow.
“We’re at 15 percent of our $10 million emergency appeal,” says Melanie Brooks, spokeswoman for the emergency team of Care International, based in Geneva. “We don’t necessarily pull back from operations, but we don’t necessarily put up our hands as much either. We can only do what we have the money to do.”
Coming just 7 months after the Haiti earthquake, the Pakistani floods are coming at a time when the people who generally donate aid are feeling the pinch of a tough economy, Ms. Brooks adds. But the scale of the floods in Pakistan had also made it difficult for people to grasp. “When the flooding started, people thought, 'This happens every year,’ and the floods will recede and people will go home. But it’s still raining there. This isn’t going away, and people are starting to understand the magnitude of the crisis, and the consequences.”
The UN Wednesday said the pace of donations has increased in recent days from the immediate aftermath of flooding. “We thank donors for their generosity, and ask them to keep up this accelerated pace of donations. The road ahead remains long. We should all also be ready for any increase in requirements,” said John Holmes, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator in statements on the UN website.
A comparison to Haiti
But the pace of giving still pales in comparison to other disaster recovery efforts, most notably the Haitian earthquake in January.
According to Shannon Scribner, Senior Policy Advisor for Humanitarian Response at Oxfam America, nearly three weeks into the disaster in Pakistan, the roughly $230 million committed to help 15 million people affected breaks down to about $15 committed per flood affected person. Within 10 days of the Haiti earthquake, $742 million was committed (and $920 million pledged). With some 1.5 million people directly impacted, that breaks down to $495 per person committed, she says.