Thousands of emergency shelters, water purifiers and hygiene kits from the UK left Dubai for Pakistan on Tuesday.
The aid items were paid for by the British government as part of a £41.5 million (Dh163m) pledge to support millions of people displaced by floods in Pakistan.
Emergency shelters are intended for up to 187,050 people while water filters and hygiene supplies should be enough for up to 31,282 people.
Pallets loaded up into shipping containers will arrive in Karachi within five days and life-saving supplies will be delivered to the worst affected areas.
Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan has left more than 250,000 square kilometres of land submerged, displacing 33 million people and destroying huge stretches of farmland as global food prices rice.
More than 1,600 people have been killed and about 2 million homes have been destroyed.
Heavy monsoon rains that fell in mid-June added to a severe heatwave that melted glaciers and caused flooding across the country.
Central to the UK-funded relief operation is the Modern Freight Company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, which has been working with the British government to deliver aid to disaster zones around the world since 2005.
The Dubai storage facility houses 80 per cent of all the UK’s global humanitarian aid, due to its prime location offering ease of access to global disaster hotspots.
“Dubai is an efficient global hub that allows us to act speedily during times of crisis,” said Patrick Moody, British ambassador to the UAE.
“We have given £16.5 million directly from the government, £25m from the British people themselves — they consistently do this to top up what the government is already doing when disasters happen.
“The UAE’s We Stand Together initiative is working well and shows the importance of strong partnerships.
“The British government is committed to this kind of action, and humanitarian work will continue to be one of our bedrocks, although we would like to solve the problems that cause these disasters in the first place.”
UAE and UK work together to deliver aid
A financial appeal by the United Nations and Pakistan for help has been answered by the UK and UAE governments, which are working in partnership to deliver aid where it is most needed.
The World Bank has also committed $2 billion (Dh7.3bn) in aid for recovery efforts.
Around £10m (Dh39.5m) of the money raised by the UK’s Disasters Emergency Committee will go to international aid agencies on the ground to provide water, sanitation and shelter.
Funds will also support families to repair their homes and maintain their livelihoods.
An initial £1.5m (Dh5.9m) pledged by the UK has already been used to assist at least 15,000 families, offer primary health care support through mobile medical camps and provide some 4,000 hygiene kits.
Support has also been sent out directly from the UK to aid the Pakistan military in relief efforts and includes eight mark six assault boats and 10 portable generators.
“Like the UAE, humanitarian work is key to our engagement with the outside world and that will continue despite the tightening of belts,” said Mr Moody.
“Our partnerships here are key, and we agree on the kind of work that is needed in the humanitarian sector, on climate change and investment in Africa.
“The kits being sent to Pakistan are tailored to what people need. It is a highly efficient operation.”
The Modern Freight Company receives containers by sea and air, which are then stored in warehouses in Jebel Ali Free Zone.
It has 2,500 pallet locations with 19,000 cubic metres of storage, 4,000 of which are used by the UK government.
“This is a fast response operation. Usually, we have to ship items out within 48 hours,” said Sunil Anto, manager of operations at Modern Freight Company.
“We can often have two flights loaded with goods coming into the UAE on pallets, so we have to manage that and mobilise as quickly as possible.”
DP World donation
The DP World Foundation has also pledged substantial support for flood-affected areas following a recent meeting with the company's chief executive Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem and Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi in the country.
DP World has donated $1m (Dh3.67m) to the Pakistan Army Fund for Flood Affectees, and has pledged another $1.5m in relief items, including shelters, medication, food items, and cooking utensils.
Warehousing space at DP World’s facilities in Karachi has been set aside for logistics support.
“The devastation and impact on Pakistan are heartbreaking,” said Mr bin Sulayem.
“Visiting areas affected by natural disasters always forces you to put things into perspective as you try to fathom the enormity of the situation.
“It could be months before we understand the scale of the damage.
“However, for now, we must look at the most efficient ways to extend relief to aid local communities in distress.”