If the Pakistani leadership wants to be sincere to its people, it should try and win back lost credibility by putting a
|Aid groups say millions of affected Pakistanis are vulnerable to hunger, homelessness and desperation [AFP]|
The International Monetary Fund will provide Pakistan with about $450 million in emergency aid this month to help it cope with devastating floods.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF managing director, said in a statement on Thursday that Pakistan needs the money to deal with a disaster that has seriously damaged infrastructure and hurt the country’s economic outlook.
The IMF says the aid comes on top of $7.3 billion provided under an arrangement in place since November 2008.
On Wednesday the World Bank also raised its funding for Pakistan’s flood disaster recuperation to $1 billion.
An additional $100 million was pledged, the bank said on Wednesday, to help with the worst disaster in the country’s history.
“The World Bank is committed to helping the people of Pakistan during this time of need and has made US$1 billion available to finance immediate recovery needs and longer-term reconstruction,” Robert Zoellick, the World Bank president, was quoted in the statement as having said to Hafeez Shaikh, Pakistani finance minister, in Washington DC.
Zoellick also said that vital economic, governance and institutional overhaul in Pakistan was needed to continue to maintain donor confidence and continue to provide aid to the eight million people dependent on it to survive.
“Renewed commitment to governance and fiscal reforms will be important to mobilise domestic revenues and ensure that funds reach the poor people it is intended for,” Zoellick said.
“The response of donors to the floods will also depend on the government’s ability to deliver in this area.”
The additional $100 million, which comes without interest obligations, was already promised to Pakistan but not for the relief of flooding or its effects.
Shaikh is in Washington DC to attend meetings with the Internaional Monetary Fund (IMF) over Pakistan’s current $11bn loan programme from the fund.
Shaikh said that the country would not renege on repayment of the loan but that he wished to provide clarity on the current disaster to the IMF.
The World Food Programme on Wednesday warned that Pakistan faced a “triple threat”.
“There is a triple threat unfolding as this crisis widens and deepens,” Josette Sheeran, the World Food Programme chief, said at a conference with other UN officials in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, after visiting flooded areas on Wednesday.
“People have lost seeds, crops and their incomes, leaving them vulnerable to hunger, homelessness and desperation – the situation is extremely critical.”
Torrential rains triggered massive floods that have moved steadily from north to south over the past month, engulfing a fifth of the country and affecting 17 million of Pakistan’s 167 million people.
The floods have washed away huge swathes of the rich farmland on which the country’s struggling economy depends.
Anthony Lake, the head of Unicef, the UN children’s fund, said that the disaster had affected nearly 8.6 million children.
“In many ways, it is a children’s emergency,” he said.
“There is also a potential second wave of death from waterborne diseases.This is likely to get much worse if we can’t reach people with clean water, adequate nutrition, sanitation and vaccination.”
|Many women and children have been killed in Sindh province due to diseases triggered by the floods [AFP]|
Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from the town of Mingora, said the waters were receding but the extent of the devastation is “staggering”.
“It has been about a month since floods tore through Swat valley, the floodwaters have receded, but the devastation left behind is staggering. Areas are still not accessible by road, leaving far too many people isolated,” he said.
Floodwaters have continued to sweep towards two small southern towns as authorities managed finally to plug a breach in defences across the Indus river in nearby Thatta city.
Pakistani troops and city workers had been battling over the weekend to save Thatta, with most of the population of 300,000 fleeing the advancing waters.
“Thatta city has been declared safe after a breach in the river caused by floods at nearby Faqir Jo Goth village was fully plugged,” Hadi Bakhsh Kalhoro, a senior city official, told the AFP news agency.
But he said the fast-moving waters that left the low-lying town of Sujawal submerged on Sunday were now threatening the towns of Jati and Choohar Jamali, where official warnings have been issued to residents to evacuate.
“We are making efforts to save the two towns which have a combined population of more than 100,000,” Kalhoro said.