More US assistance for flood-ravaged Pakistan

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 11:12

Washington: Noting that flood situation in Pakistan is unlikely to get better soon, the United States has said more American aid is expected to be announced for the
flood-ravaged nation.

The US, so far, has announced more than USD 76 million for the humanitarian flood relief work in Pakistan which has affected an estimated 20 million people.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has termed it as
a worse natural calamity than tsunami or the Haiti earthquake.

"I don`t think anyone`s under any illusions that it`s
going to get better soon. So I think we`re constantly going to
reevaluate where we`re at and possibly increase assistance,"
State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said.

"We are fully cognisant of the fact that it`s going to
need a lot of assistance over the long haul. I don`t think
anyone is expecting this to be a short-term humanitarian
need," Toner said.

Meanwhile, Pentagon yesterday said it has intensified
its relief effort in Pakistan. Since August 5, US military has
rescued 3,978 flood victims and transported more than 500,000
pounds of food and relief supplies.

"Everything that we`re doing is at the request of the
Pakistani government," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

"So everything that we`re providing, where we`re
taking it to, who we`re delivering it to... anything we`re
providing is specifically at the request of the Pakistani
government," he said.

The Defence Department has spent about USD 300,000 a
day on flight operations. The total operational cost so far is
around USD 2.5 million.

This number is only a "small part of the federal
government expenditure," he said.

The US has deployed 11 helicopters and three cargo
planes and more are on their way. Defence Secretary Robert
Gates last week ordered a contingent of 19 US helicopters to
Pakistan.

Whitman could not say when the remaining helicopters
would arrive.
"I don`t believe we`ve gotten to the point where we
can estimate the totality of the support that`s needed. It`s
obviously a very devastating flood. The UN, as well as
Pakistani authorities, have called in a broad international
assistance," Whitman said.

Responding to reporters question, Whitman said it does
not look like the situation is getting any better.
"It`s a dire situation, and just by the number of
rescues the US military has done with the limited aviation
assets on the ground with 11 helicopters, you can see people`s
lives are being saved every day by having some of these
capabilities there," he said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 11:12

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