Ertharin Cousin, (L) the executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), is briefed by an official during her visit to a disaster risk reduction project in Kalam in Swat valley June 23, 2013. Cousin began a two-day visit to Pakistan with a visit to WFP projects in Swat Valley on Sunday. - Photo by Reuters
Ertharin Cousin, (L) the executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), is briefed by an official during her visit to a disaster risk reduction project in Kalam in Swat valley June 23, 2013. Cousin began a two-day visit to Pakistan with a visit to WFP projects in Swat Valley on Sunday. - Photo by Reuters

PESHAWAR: Hunger in Pakistan is at emergency levels after years of conflict and floods, but funding has dwindled as new crises such as Syria grab donors' attention, the United Nations food aid chief said on Sunday.

Fighting in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan compounded problems caused by three consecutive years of floods that destroyed crops and forced millions of people to temporarily abandon their homes.

Although most have now returned, about half of Pakistan's population still does not have secure access to enough food, up from a little over a third a decade ago, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said. Fifteen per cent of children are severely malnourished, and some 40 per cent suffer from stunted growth.

“This is an emergency situation, both from the food security side as well as from the malnutrition side,” WFP chief Ertharin Cousin told Reuters. “We need to raise the alarm.”

At a centre for treating acute malnutrition in Pakistan's Swat Valley, visited by Cousin on Sunday, a young mother called Zainab clutched her underweight 2-month-old baby and waited for a high-nutrition food ration.

“When the area was evacuated, we left our cattle and our homes, when we came back our cattle were dead and our homes were destroyed,” said Zainab, who wore a black burqa.

There is growing concern that international donors will lose interest in the unstable border areas after the withdrawal next year of US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan.

Already, Cousin said, the rising cost of the refugee crisis in Syria meant it was harder to attract funds to Pakistan.

WFP's Syria-related operations currently cost $19 million a month, and are forecast to rise as high as $42 million a month by the end of the year, putting a strain on Western donors.

North Korea is even worse hit by funding shortages, Cousin said, partly due to a drop in donations noticed at the beginning of this year, when Pyongyang threatened to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.

“We are significantly under-funded in DPRK going into this lean season, and we are very concerned about what that means,” said Cousin, who called off a visit to North Korea during the tensions in March. She said she still planned to visit.

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Comments (14) Closed

Jun 24, 2013 09:29am


Jun 24, 2013 01:21pm

She should go to Somalia or Ethiopia first. But why should she? Every time there is a disaster in Africa, its the white man from Europe to the rescue. Shame on you. Go fix your house first.

Jun 24, 2013 05:00pm

If the "militants" want Allah's mercy and really want to go to heaven, then they should lay down their arms and cultivate the land to feed their starving countrymen, women and malnourished children!

Jun 24, 2013 05:30pm

..and this all is happening in a country where Muslims reside, who are told that their faith is not complete if his/her neighbour sleeps hungry.

Anwar Gul
Jun 24, 2013 07:18pm

Appreciate ED visit to Pakistan it will help to highlight problems of Pakistan to the world.

Jun 24, 2013 07:27pm

A very sad situation indeed. The article points to fighting and floods in the last three years as the main causes of this disaster. Another big question is can we continue to produce enough food to feed our growing population in the years to come considering the lack of water in most areas and the increase in the frequency of flooding which is forecasted to get worse due to global warming?

Jun 24, 2013 07:52pm

Misuse of donor aid combined with overall poor international reputation has it's consequences - s/b no surprise that donors find other worthy causes. Pakistan needs to make concerted effort to rehabilitate it's reputation and regain trust of donors.

Jun 24, 2013 09:06pm

@Tariq: bro muslims are terrorist and loosers, heal is not enough for them, they deserve something more!

Jun 25, 2013 12:24am

Similar to N Korea Pakistani's are actually shrinking because of chronic malnutrition - both countries may have been better off feeding their people rather than developing nukes.

M. Emad
Jun 25, 2013 01:26am

Bhuka Pakistani !

Jun 25, 2013 07:13am

@gamgadin: She is an American. Just because she looks African does not mean she is from Africa and she is trying to help your nation. Fix your house at least with her help.

Mayank R
Jun 25, 2013 08:50am

@gamgadin: Dude relax. Just because she is black does not mean she is from Africa. As a matter of fact she is from Chicago.

Aizaz Moin
Jun 25, 2013 12:20pm

This used to be a good country once, progressive, prosperous, tolerant and a model for all in the Muslim world. Foreigners used to flock to get contracts in Pakistan. I remember foreign pilots flying for PIA. Sadly Modern Day Pakistanis with their Islamist agendas for imposing their standards on this "society". Have ruined this once great Country. I honestly believe Pakistan must now DUMP it's nuclear arsenal because I am certain it WILL fall into the wrong hands spelling disaster for the rest of the world. BUT WHO WILL BELL THE CAT???

Jun 25, 2013 03:29pm

@gamgadin: She is from USA and not from Somalia