News / Europe

Britain Reports Increase in Public Response to Pakistan Floods

Britain's Disaster Emergency Committee says the public response to floods in Pakistan has been unprecedented.

Disaster Emergency Committee chief executive Brendan Gormley told reporters in London the British public has given about $45 million in aid to the Pakistan flood relief effort - and he says money is still flowing in.

"For the first time in the DEC's history, we have taken more money in the second week than in the first week," he said.

The Disaster Emergency Committee was formed in 1963 as an umbrella organization for 13 British humanitarian aid agencies.

Gormley says usually public donations for emergency relief tend to tail off after the initial media buzz surrounding a disaster - as happened in Haiti and Indonesia.

Oxfam humanitarian director Jane Cocking says the situation in Pakistan is deeply complex.

"What we have is a single long event which has the scale of the tsunami, the destruction of Haiti, and the complexity of the Middle East," said Cocking. "And in 20 years of responding to humanitarian crisis I do not think I have seen anything quite like this."

More than 1,500 people have been killed and an estimated 20 million left homeless by floods in Pakistan.

The United Nations says it has raised almost 70 percent of the nearly $500 million it needs to cope with the disaster.

A member of Save the Children's relief team, Sadia Bungaard, spoke to VOA from Islamabad. She says international aid agencies are geared to deal with disasters in Pakistan, but the sheer scale of the problem is overwhelming.

Bungaard says Pakistan needs the full support of the International Community.

"It is definitely the international communities, the governments, who need to put the serious money into this or we are going to have a famine on our hands very soon," Bungaard said.

The floods began last month after heavy monsoon rains in the northwest of Pakistan, then swept into the south of the country.

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