UN Warns Funds Drying Up for Quake Aid

Pakistani soldiers help carry boxes of high energy biscuits
from a UN helicopter for the families in the remote village
of Nauseri, Neelum Valley, Pakistan

Associated Press: “The U.N. on Friday warned it will run out of money and be forced to ground helicopters delivering earthquake relief supplies to northern Pakistan unless donors come through with the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to see 2.3 million hungry people through the winter.Jan Vandemoortele, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan, also urged archrivals India and Pakistan to open the disputed
Kashmir border, saying this would help the relief effort – if not solve logistical challenges posed by the formidable Himalayan terrain.

“The situation is quite grim. With the money we have already, and much of it obtained from our own internal emergency reserves, we can keep the helicopters running for one week,” Michael Jones of the U.N. World Food Program said in Islamabad.

The U.N. refugee agency also warned that its own reserves of emergency supplies were dangerously low. With landslides still blocking many roads, helicopters are a lifeline for isolated communities, delivering supplies and ferrying badly injured people to hospitals.

Halting flights would be calamitous for hundreds of communities that have received little aid, weeks before the frigid Himalayan winter hits.

Donor nations meeting in Geneva this week pledged $580 million for quake victims, but much of it hasn’t arrived. The U.N. said it had so far received only about 20 percent of the funds needed for its emergency relief effort – a far weaker response than to other recent disasters, such as last year’s Indian Ocean tsunami.”