The US has boosted Pakistan’s flood relief efforts, announcing $10 million in aid, in addition to Washington’s already announced financial assistance of $56.1m.
Washington is the biggest contributor of aid to cash-strapped Pakistan, which has struggled to provide tents, food and other supplies for hundreds of thousands of people living in makeshift camps after being displaced by record-breaking floods that have killed 1,638 people since mid-June.
The latest announcement, revealed by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, came weeks after the US set up a humanitarian air bridge to help the impoverished nation.
Once the scale of the devastation became clear, the UN appealed for $160m in emergency funding to help more than 33 million people affected by the floods.
The ministry statement followed a meeting on Monday between Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington. It said the two discussed the unprecedented floods, caused in part by climate change and that Mr Bhutto Zardari thanked the US government for its assistance.
“No country could deal with a crisis of this proportion on its own,” the ministry quoted Mr Bhutto Zardari as telling Mr Blinken. The foreign minister also said that Pakistan is "one of the lowest emitters and is ironically one of the most severely impacted by climate change".
Pakistan is seeking climate justice and looking toward its partners for assistance in recovering from this calamity, Mr Bhutto Zardari added. According to the statement, Mr Blinken expressed his condolences over the loss of “precious lives and monumental economic losses” and reaffirmed America's commitment to help.
“We will continue to stand by Pakistan, to stand by its people, today and in the days to come,” Mr Blinken said on Monday at an event in Washington marking 75 years of US-Pakistan relations.
The devastation has also highlighted the disproportionate effect of climate change on impoverished nations. Experts say Pakistan is responsible for only 0.4 per cent of the world’s historic emissions blamed for climate change.
Last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif detailed the scope of the disaster and exhorted world leaders gathered for their annual meeting at the UN General Assembly to stand together and raise resources “to build resilient infrastructure, to build adaptation, so that our future generations are saved”.
Mr Sharif also sought more help for relief and rehabilitation operations for Pakistan’s flood victims, especially in the southern Sindh province — the worst-hit of all the country’s provinces, where many districts are still under water. After returning home from New York, Mr Sharif on Tuesday again visited some of the flood-hit areas in Sindh.
Pakistan says the disaster has caused damages in the amount of $30 billion. UN agencies and several countries, including the US, have so far sent 129 planeloads of aid.
Even as they contend with the flooding, the Pakistani authorities are also struggling with outbreaks of disease among survivors, especially in Sindh, where waterborne infections, malaria and dengue fever have caused more than 300 deaths since July, according to health officials.