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UN: Funds Urgently Needed Ahead of Pakistani Monsoons

FILE - Pakistani man crossing flooded path during heavy rain fall in slum on outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.
A senior United Nations official is warning that millions of Pakistanis could be left vulnerable to the effects of the upcoming monsoon season if a U.N. appeal for funds is not met soon.

Pakistani weather websites are forecasting that pre-monsoon rains could begin in mid-June and monsoon level downpours could strike the central and southern part of the country by the first week in July.

In the past, such weather patterns have caused widespread destruction, sweeping away lives, infrastructure and property. In 2010, the country saw its worst flooding in decades, with nearly a fifth of the country submerged under water and hundreds killed.

The U.N.’s director of Humanitarian Operations, John Ging, warned Wednesday that the U.N. is facing a funding crisis in preparing for this year’s monsoon season in Pakistan, and as a result, millions of vulnerable Pakistanis may suffer.

“We may be called upon in a couple of weeks to support the Pakistani authorities in responding to flooding. That has been the pattern over the last number of years, so we need to be prepared. And yet the stocks are not there. We have not got the resources to preposition the stocks as we had last year because of the fall-off in the funding,” Ging said.

Ging, who recently returned from a trip to the region, said just over $43 million is needed for the emergency stocks which include tents and supplies. Currently, the United Nations has not received any funds toward this.

He said this is symptomatic of a recent trend in Pakistan, where he said there has been an “alarming” drop off of international aid for such crises, with funding in 2010 being at 70 percent of what was requested, but last year, dropping off to only 29 percent funded.