August 16, 2010

At a time where most nations haven't even kept their pledges of relief to Haiti, this is very bad timing for the flood-ravaged country of Pakistan.

In the meantime, President Zardari went off on a state visit to France, infuriating Pakistanis:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday that he had never seen anything like the flood disaster in Pakistan and urged foreign donors to speed up assistance to the 20 million people affected.

“I will never forget the destruction and suffering I have witnessed today,” Mr. Ban said after flying over hard-hit areas with President Asif Ali Zardari. “I have witnessed many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this.”

The secretary general visited Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis struck there in May 2008, killing an estimated 138,000 people. Two months earlier, he flew to Sichuan Province in China, just days after an earthquake killed nearly 90,000 people.

Mr. Ban’s comments also reflected widespread concern about the unfolding disaster in Pakistan. The country is battling militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban and has a weak and unpopular government, while its anemic economy is propped up by international assistance.

The floods, which began more than two weeks ago in the mountainous northwest, have hit about one-quarter of the country, especially its agricultural heartland. While the death toll of about 1,500 is relatively small, the scale of the flooding and the number whose lives have been disrupted are staggering. On Saturday, the prime minister said 20 million people had been made homeless.

The United Nations has appealed for an initial $460 million to provide relief, but only 20 percent has been given.

The relief effort has had nowhere near the success of aid for Haiti after its earthquake:

ISLAMABAD – The global aid response to the Pakistan floods has so far been much less generous than to other recent natural disasters — despite the soaring numbers of people affected and the prospect of more economic ruin in a country key to the fight against Islamist extremists.

Reasons include the relatively low death toll of 1,500, the slow onset of the flooding compared with more immediate and dramatic earthquakes or tsunamis, and a global "donor fatigue" — or at least a Pakistan fatigue.

If you would like to help, you can give at any the following sites [via Pakistani Perspective].

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