Islamabad: The first NATO cargo aircraft carrying relief goods for survivors of the devastating floods in Pakistan on Sunday arrived at the military Chaklala Airbase.
In response to a request by the Government of Pakistan, the NATO had on Friday decided to provide airlift and sealift for the delivery of aid to Pakistan floods survivors.
The NATO yesterday started to airlift about 500 tonnes of relief supplies from Europe to Pakistan, where about eight million are in need of emergency aid.
A Trainer Cargo Aircraft of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force transported relief goods donated by the Republic of Slovakia and will conduct a humanitarian relief mission to Pakistan in support of the flood humanitarian efforts in that country.
Maurits Jochems, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations, said the alliance`s airlift of relief supplies to Pakistan "is in response to a request for humanitarian assistance from the Pakistani authorities”.
Yesterday’s first cargo flight "is part of the international community’s overall efforts to help Pakistan in this major humanitarian disaster," he said.
The flight departed from Geilenkirchen airbase in Germany to Islamabad with relief goods. On board are tonnes of tents, blankets, water pumps, power generators and other relief goods donated by Slovakia.
More NATO flights to deliver humanitarian aid from the alliance`s member nations, its partners and international aid organisations are expected to follow in the coming days.
NATO`s support to the flood relief operations will be conducted in accordance with specific requests from the Pakistan authorities and in coordination with other stakeholders engaged in the humanitarian relief efforts.
Since the first request for humanitarian assistance by the Pakistani authorities in early August, The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre at NATO Headquarters in Brussels has been acting as a clearing house for humanitarian assistance offered by Allies and partner nations.
NATO`s support to the relief operations in support of the humanitarian disaster in Pakistan will continue to be implemented in full coordination with the Pakistani authorities. During the past week, NATO has been preparing to set up a "clearing centre" at an air base in Pakistan to handle the relief supplies from Europe, German NATO General Egon Ramms said in a TV interview this weekend.
"We want to bring the aid supplies to the country, but their distribution will be left to the Pakistani government and the Army," the General said.
The NATO airlift comes as donors pledged more assistance for the victims of the worst natural disaster in Pakistani history following the special session of the United Nations General assembly last week.
The UN estimates that as many as eight million people are in desperate need of assistance as the fury of the floods, which began more than three weeks ago, has shifted to southern Pakistan.
Pakistan has been hit by the worst floods in 80 years, which have inundated one fifth of its land, killed around 2,000 people and impacted an estimated 20 million people of which about 3.5 million children are in need of emergency aid.