The emergency phase of the Pakistan flood effort continues at pace. Apparently, there are some 800,000 people reachable only by air. That's 800,000 people who's only lifeline is a handful of US and Pakistani helicopters in the area.
Yesterday, Pakistan's foreign minister addressed the General Assembly. It is among the most powerful things I have read about the historic floods. Beyond the immediate concerns of keeping people fed, sheltered and safe, you get a real sense of just how deeply transformative this calamity will be for Pakistan's social and economic structure.
Twenty percent of Pakistan is under water, and it's getting way, way less attention – and more importantly – financial support – that the earthquake in Haiti generated. It's true that in terms of initial casualties, the situation in Haiti was far worse, but the long-term impact of the Pakistani floods is going to dwarf the catastrophe in Haiti. That fact is apparently being ignored, by both the media and donors.
Funding for Pakistan relief efforts is finally starting to roll in ahead of a meeting at the UN General Assembly today. The latest figures released by the UN show that the flash appeal is only $40 million of its $460 million target. That is a big improvement from yesterday, when the fund was only about 50% filled.
The finance minister of Afghanistan handed over a $1 million check to the Pakistani Ambassador yesterday. For the record, that makes Afghanistan a larger donor to Pakistan flood relief efforts than France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, and Estonia (among others). Not to judge, but is $917,431 for flood relief all that France can really afford right now?
Al Jazeera captures a great quote that speaks to some of the frustrations felt by the first responders to Pakistan's massive floods:
"We cannot spend pledges. We cannot buy purification tablets, we cannot support Pakistan with pledges," Daniel Toole, the South Asia regional director for the UN's children fund, Unicef, said on Tuesday. "I urge the international community to urgently change pledges into cheques."