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Clinton to Boost Aid Pledge at UN Meeting on Pakistan


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce another increase in U.S. flood aid to Pakistan at Thursday's special U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. Officials said they see the U.N. session as a catalyst for a broader international response to the disaster.

The United States has already committed about $90 million dollars in relief aid and millions of dollars more of in-kind aid provided by the U.S. military, including helicopter rescue operations and air transport.

Senior officials said Clinton will announce a sizeable further increase at the special General Assembly session, which they said they hope will stimulate wider participation in the relief effort by governments, businesses and private citizens.

Efforts to generate private contributions for Pakistani flood relief, through vehicles such as cell phone e-mail pledges, have lagged behind efforts for other recent natural disasters like the January earthquake in Haiti.

In announcing Clinton's participation in the U.N. meeting, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley attributed the relative shortfall to the fact that the magnitude of the Pakistani flood disaster, and its long-term implications, are only now becoming apparent.

"There's a qualitative difference to this disaster," said Crowley. "And much of it is because it's still raining in Pakistan. The floods are expanding in Pakistan. And in the coming days, I think you will see the response pick up as people understand the magnitude of this. You have an unfolding immediate disaster. But then you have, a long-term recovery that will be vitally important."

Under legislation approved last year, the United States has committed $7.5 billion dollars to Pakistan during the next five years in non-military assistance.

Officials here said the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid program, named for its key sponsors in Congress and aimed chiefly at building Pakistani infrastructure, will be "re-calibrated" to help what will be a long recovery process from the floods.

One of the program's namesakes, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday from Afghanistan for a first-hand assessment of what is described as Pakistan's worst flooding in 80 years.

Secretary Clinton, who will address the special General Assembly session in New York, also will discuss the disaster in separate meetings with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

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