NATO to airlift relief supplies from Europe to flood-hit Pak

UN estimates that at least 8 million people are in need of assistance in Pak.

Updated: Aug 21, 2010, 15:43 PM IST

Berlin: NATO has announced plans for a large-scale airlift of relief supplies from Europe for the survivors of the devastating floods in Pakistan, as donors pledged more assistance after a slow start of aid efforts.

German NATO General Egon Ramms said yesterday that the alliance could deliver up to 500 tonnes of aid material a week for millions of people who are in desperate need of food, clean drinking water and shelter.

Preparations are already underway to set up a "clearing centre" at an air base in Pakistan to handle the aid supplies from Europe.

"We want to bring the aid supplies to the country, but their distribution will be the responsibility of the Pakistani government and the Army," Gen Ramms told a TV channel.

Since last Sunday, the NATO has been conducting reconnaissance missions in the flood-ravaged areas in cooperation with Pakistani authorities to find out to what extent the alliance could help in the relief efforts, the four-star General said.

The United Nations estimate that as many as eight million people are in desperate need of assistance, a large part of them are still cut off by the devastating floods and thousands of villages submerged under the flood waters.

In Brussels, the NATO said the airlift of relief supplies for the flood victims in Pakistan will get underway tomorrow.

"In response to a request by the government of Pakistan, the North Atlantic Alliance decided to provide airlift and sealift for the delivery of aid donated by nations and humanitarian organisation," the alliance said in a statement.

A trainer cargo aircraft of the NATO airborne Early Warning and Control Force (AWACS) will transport relief goods donated by the Republic of Slovakia.

The flight will leave for Islamabad from the Geilenkirchen air base in Germany and will carry aid items, including tents, water pumps and power generation equipment donated by the Republic of Slovakia, the statement said.

NATO`s work for the flood relief operations "will be conducted in accordance with specific request from Pakistan authorities and in coordination with other stakeholders engaged in the humanitarian relief efforts," the statement said.

Since the Pakistani authorities made their first request for humanitarian assistance in early August, the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre at the NATO headquarters in Brussels has been acting as a clearing house for humanitarian aid by its allies and partner nations, it said.

Donors pledged more assistance after the special session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday.