News / Asia

UN Appeals for $2 Billion for Pakistan Flood Victims

Margaret Besheer

The United Nations has launched its largest humanitarian appeal ever, asking the international community for more than $2 billion to assist 14 million people for the next year in flood ravaged Pakistan.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who visited the flood zone in August, said in launching the appeal, that the Pakistani flood crisis is the worst natural disaster the United Nations has responded to in its 65-year history. "Simply put, helping the 20 million people affected will be a test of our collective humanity. That is why today we are launching appeal for an additional $1.594 billion ... in assistance. Together with the initial appeal, our 12-month response plan amounts to just over $2 billion," he said.

Last month, the U.N. put out the call for nearly $500 million to help the flood victims. About 80 percent of that has been funded, making the unmet requirements of Friday's revised appeal about $1.6 billion.

The funds have been designated for nearly 500 projects covering such essential sectors as housing, food, water, sanitation, hygiene, and agriculture.

The U.N.'s new humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, said Pakistan is experiencing several different disasters simultaneously, rather than just one big one, adding to its complexity. "And that is why the emergency response is just one part of this revised appeal. In addition to the assessments of emergency needs, it contains detailed proposals for early recovery projects. Without these projects we are not going to give people the tools they need to get back on their feet. Our ultimate goal is to help the people of Pakistan to rebuild lives as quickly as possible," she said.

India was the first country to announce a contribution to the revised appeal. Its representative at the meeting said natural disasters know no boundaries, and India would give an additional $20 million to Pakistan and $5 million to the World Food Program's Pakistan relief efforts.

Heavy monsoon rains started to hit Pakistan in late July, causing rivers to burst their banks and devastating thousands of villages across several provinces, killing over 1,700 people and millions were left homeless. Flood waters have also damaged and destroyed infrastructure, homes, crops and livestock.

Friday's appeal is the largest one ever issued by the United Nations. Previously, the biggest natural disaster appeal was for victims of Haiti's January earthquake which totaled nearly $1.5 billion.

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