EU boosts flood aid to Pakistan to Euro 70 million

The European Union nearly doubled its aid to flood-stricken Pakistan to Euro 70 million on Wednesday and announced a trip by its top aid official after calls for Brussels to do more to help.

Last Updated: Aug 18, 2010, 21:21 PM IST

Brussels: The European Union nearly doubled
its aid to flood-stricken Pakistan to Euro 70 million on
Wednesday and announced a trip by its top aid official after
calls for Brussels to do more to help.

European humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina
Georgieva announced that she would travel to the affected
areas of Pakistan on Monday to meet with authorities, relief
experts and victims of the floods.
"We are facing a humanitarian disaster in Pakistan of
massive proportions," Georgieva told a news conference, adding
that the need for international assistance was "massive."

The European Commission, the bloc`s executive arm, said
it would provide an extra Euro 30 million in emergency relief
assistance to Pakistan after already giving Euro 40 million
in aid.

International aid group Oxfam has urged Brussels to
provide more aid, saying the commission was "not doing
enough."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter to
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Sunday
also saying that the EU executive should "do more."

Barroso responded in his own letter to Sarkozy that his
services were "the first to react" to the disaster in
Pakistan.

Georgieva told reporters: "From the very first day, we
knew that is going to be a tremendous disaster, we have
mobilised to the fullest to deploy and help."
The European aid official expressed frustration about the
lack of recognition of the EU assistance and said the
27-nation bloc needed to raise its visibility.

"It breaks my heart that I open newspapers and nowhere I
see a recognition that we are the biggest donor in this
humanitarian disaster," she said.

Georgieva said she would present in September proposals
on how to improve the EU`s crisis response, amid calls for
Europe to form a rapid reaction scheme for disasters.

The United Nations last week launched an immediate appeal
for USD 460 million, and said today that funding had reached
54.5 per cent of this target, though that included pledges
that were yet to turn into cash.

Foreign aid began flowing to the 20 million flood victims
today, but many remained without food or shelter as Islamabad
responded slowly to their needs.

Weather forecasts signalled some respite was due with
monsoon systems weakening after three weeks of torrential
rains brought devastating floods that left at least 1,400
people dead in the country`s worst natural disaster.

PTI