Pak floods: Merkel appeals to Germans for aid

Chancellor assures Germans their assistance will reach Pak flood victims.

Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to the people of her country to donate generously for the victims of Pakistan`s devastating floods, while assuring that their assistance will reach the displaced population.

Merkel said in her latest weekly radio and Internet video address to the nation that the scale of the devastation and human suffering caused by the floods is so huge that state aid alone will not be sufficient to deal with the humanitarian crisis which is still growing.

"Pakistan is facing a task which it cannot tackle itself," she said.

An area half the size of Germany has been inundated by the floods and the people of Pakistan desperately need the help of the international community, the chancellor said.

The German government had already pledged EUR 25 million as direct humanitarian assistance for the flood victims and together with its contributions to the relief efforts of the European Union the total assistance amounted to around EUR 70 million.

Moreover, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has launched an airlift of food items, drinking water, medicines and other emergency relief supplies from Europe for the flood victims.

But they are not enough because the need for immediate humanitarian assistance is so great that the state aid has to be supported by private donations.

"I want to thank all those who have already donated and appeal to all those who have not done so to help the people of Pakistan in their desperate situation," Merkel said.

It is estimated that more than eight million people have been made homeless and dependent on emergency relief by the floods, which began to wreck havoc in northern Pakistan a month ago.

Chancellor Merkel`s appeal comes amid reports that the German public has been less willing to donate for the victims of the flood disaster in Pakistan than during previous major natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti in January and the Asian tsunami in December, 2004 because of concern that their aid may not reach the flood victims.

Public opinion polls in the past weeks showed that more than 60 percent of those interviewed were concerned that their donations for the flood victims could be siphoned off by corrupt government officials or terrorist organisations.

But Merkel told the German people that the delivery of relief supplies from Germany to the flood victims is "guaranteed" because a number of German non-governmental organisations operating in the flood-hit areas are distributing them directly to the survivors of the disaster.

Besides the humanitarian aspect, it is also in Germany`s interest to support the people of flood-ravaged Pakistan because in some of the worse-hit areas al Qaeda and the Taliban are already operating, the chancellor said.

"Therefore, it is important to show that the international community stands by the people of Pakistan.”

"We have to make it clear that we want to give aid and to do whatever we can to prevent those political forces which do not share our views gaining strength from such natural disasters," she said.


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