Red Cross` fresh appeal for $76 mln for Pak flood relief

The Red Cross on Thursday launched a fresh appeal for USD 76 million to step up its current humanitarian effort for lakhs of people affected by the "catastrophic" floods in Pakistan.

Last Updated: Sep 02, 2010, 20:11 PM IST

Geneva: The Red Cross on Thursday launched a
fresh appeal for USD 76 million to step up its current
humanitarian effort for lakhs of people affected by the
"catastrophic" floods in Pakistan.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),
which has provided food, clean water, and medical aid to
around 350,000 people till now, wants to scale-up its
assistance for 1.4 million people in the next fortnight.

The floods have nearly destroyed the lives of almost
80 per cent of flood-victims who are dependent on agriculture
for their livelihood.

But a month after the "catastrophic" floods with
"staggering proportions" there is no clarity yet on how food,
clean water, and medical aid could be reached to millions of
people whose lives have been nearly washed away, Jacques de
Maio, the head of ICRC`s South Asia division, said.

"One month after the catastrophic floods [in Pakistan]
with staggering proportions, we should be getting ready to
ensure that the humanitarian assistance reached the
most-affected people," he told reporters here.

"But the reality is that the ICRC and its Pakistan Red
Crescent Society have no idea of what is happening on the
ground, how many are affected, and how the aid should be made
available to people who need it most-affected areas amid
violent threats and looting," de Maio said.

However, ICRC and other international aid agencies are
not able to function effectively in several areas due to
growing threats from Taliban insurgents who want foreign
agencies to stay away from any humanitarian work.

"Indeed there are two dynamics at work," he said,
suggesting that the terrible attacks in Lahore plus military
restrictions have caused a parallel dynamic in addition to the
"natural disaster dynamic."

In addition to violent incidents, there are fresh
allegations that rich landowners in certain parts of Pakistan
have diverted the flow of flood waters from their fields which
compounded the crisis.

The ICRC official, however, refused to comment on
these allegations.

"Clearly, there is a major gap between the scale of
the needs and our ability to address them," de Maio said,
suggesting that the second phase of our response will involve
a distribution of seed and tools that will benefit over
300,000 people who have lost everything.

Mines and unexploded ordinance carried by flood waters
into areas that are considered to be free of weapons are also
posing danger to in many areas, the ICRC official said.

PTI