I knew things were bad in Pakistan, but I was shocked to read that a full 20 percent of the country is under water! That's right—one-fifth of the entire country has been flooded leaving a staggering 20 million people homeless. For comparison sake's, imagine Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arkansas completely submerged.
More heavy rain fell yesterday, adding to the worst flooding in eighty years and confronting Pakistan with a complex array of urgent humanitarian challenges. Providing clean water for millions of people and avoiding the spread of contagious diseases are the first priorities. But there are also looming food shortages across the country.
This video, produced by International News 24/7 three weeks since the catastrophe began, makes clear how urgently flood victims are in need of aid and also what a void is being created into which fundamentalists are ably stepping.
The United Nations has appealed for $460 million in international donations, but only about a third of that has been provided so far. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday that he had never seen anything as horrific as the flood disaster and relief officials were clearly concerned that donations from abroad would fall short of what was needed, especially when compared with those for relief of other recent disasters, like the earthquake in Haiti.
“An earthquake is a much more dramatic, emotional, telegenic event because it happens so quickly,” John Holmes, the humanitarian aid coordinator at the United Nations told the New York Times. In Pakistan’s case, he said, “What is clear is that we need a lot more help, and we need it quickly.”
There are numerous ways to heed this call and assist groups already on the ground. One of the best, The Global Fund for Women, operating in the country since 1989, has awarded 102 grants to women's groups working to increase literacy for women and girls, improve life in refugee camps, expand access to healthcare and end gender-based violence. Now, the organization is deeply involved in relief efforts. Your contributions will help provide support for women in Pakistan to address this emergency, to rebuild their communities and to protect their rights long after this disaster has past.
Teams from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) were already working on medical projects in Pakistan and have been treating victims of the flooding since the catastrophe struck. From the outset of the current crisis, MSF continued providing healthcare in its existing programs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces. Simultaneously, MSF built new, temporary health structures and set up mobile clinics in Pakistan’s two other provinces, Sindh and Punjab, when the flooding spread. Call 1-888-392-0392 to make an earmarked donation to MSF's Pakistan operations that support emergency medical care for all Pakistanis affected by the waters.
The international NGO, Save the Children, has staff in the region and is mobilizing to rush aid to displaced children and families who need essential supplies. Donate to the Pakistan Children in Emergency Fund to support Save the Children's response to the flooding in Pakistan.
In the last three weeks since the monsoons started, UNICEF has already provided numerous hygiene kits, water tankers and high-energy biscuits; repaired seventy-three tube wells benefitting 800,000 people; and established twenty-four medical camps treating an estimated 1 million people. But much more remains to be done so consider a secure, tax-deductible donation to support UNICEF's disaster relief efforts in Pakistan. Any amount you can give will help save kids' lives.
Emergency Response teams from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are distributing tents, relief supplies,] and humanitarian assistance to people displaced by the flooding. In Balochistan, UNHCR has delivered 4,000 tents, 2,700 plastic sheets, 2,200 kitchen sets, and 4,000 plastic mats to the most devastated areas. The organization has partnered with mGive to allow mobile contributions. Anyone in the world can now text the word "SWAT" to 50555 to give $10, which helps provide tents and emergency stipends to displaced families. When prompted, reply with "YES" to confirm your gift.
The Rural Support Program Network (RSPN) is a national organization and the largest non-government network of rural development programs in Pakistan. RSPN’s partners have worked extensively in disaster relief efforts in Pakistan, including the 2005 Earthquake. RSPN is collecting donations for flood affected families. Donations will be provided to affected families through the on-ground network of RSPN's longtime partners.
The Kashf Foundation, the largest microfinance organization in Pakistan, has been distributing relief packages to 10,000 households in the most affected areas. Given Kashf Foundation’s focus on provide sustainable livelihoods, the next phase of rehabilitation will involve support through access to financial services so that affected households can rebuild their income streams.
In Pakistan, the Omar Asghar Khan Foundation, established in 1999 to help work toward a democratic and peaceful society based on the values of equity, tolerance and justice, is probably the best local group working on relief for all Pakistani victims with no strings attached.
The floods in Pakistan are a disaster of global proportions, requiring a global response. Please chip in as you can and call on President Obama to do the same by re-allocating some of the $1.5 billion in US military aid to Pakistan to humanitarian disaster relief.