• UN coordinator fears even $160m sought by flash appeal ‘won’t be enough’
• Flood dashboard goes online; five dead, 4,000 houses and 300km roads damaged in last 24 hours
• UN chief calls on developed world to ‘lower the temperature’

ISLAMABAD: Responding to a flash appeal jointly launched by Pakistan and the United Nations for an initial funding of $160 million, pledges amounting to $150 million have been made and, so far only $38.35 million of this amount has been converted into assistance, the United Nations’ Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis said on Wednesday.

“We have been very successful in our fund-raising drive, and pledges of $150 million [are] excellent in the current circumstances. The main donors are the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Singapore and others besides the Central Emergency Response Fund of the United Nations, which raised $10 million,” Mr Haneis told newsmen at a press briefing on relief operations being carried out by the UN.

He said that although “funding is looking good” the needs across Pakistan in this emergency are fast-changing, with the health situation being especially worrying.

“Across the board, we can say this $160 million flash appeal is not going to be sufficient. We are in discussion with the government and other partners, and based on evaluations and assessments, revision of the flash appeal is required,” the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator said.

Saying that the flash appeal is for six months (September 2022 to February 2023), it is targeted at only six million the most affected people from floods and the UN and its partners were focusing on those people. The government has estimated that 33 million people had been affected by the countrywide flooding, Mr Haneis said.

“We are still in early days; not enough has been delivered and we need to speed up the response. UN and NGOs have some reserve monies in hand, those are being redirected to respond to emergencies, but there is a limit how much we can do. So use against scale, we need money quickly that can be converted into assistance,” the top UN official in Pakistan said.

The UN resident coordinator said that a very significant amount of cash grants was being doled out through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

He said that the UN had an obligation to be transparent financially and accountable so that food aid did not diversified away from the needy people. Every UN agency and all NGOs have internal control and means of monitoring.

He lauded Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s decision to engage a reputed international accounting company to ensure that international assistance was being used properly, and there were no pilferages.

Editorial: International responsibility

Mr Julien Harneis disclosed that the UN was in discussion with the Sindh government to establish a special committee of the provincial assembly, comprising members belonging to the most affected districts, to see how humanitarian organisations were providing relief to the people of their areas.

Nepal’s aid

Meanwhile, the Nepalese government sent humanitarian relief materials to Pakistan for flood-affected people on a chartered flight of Nepal Airlines on Wednesday. The material contains food items, medicines, garments and other household items.

The government of Nepal decided to send humanitarian relief assistance to Pakistan as a goodwill gesture of Nepal to the government and the people of Pakistan, severely affected by devastating floods.

Saudi help for flood-hit people

Also on Wednesday, the King Salman Centre for Relief and Humanitarian Action on Wednesday launched a Saudi Arabia’s national campaign to provide relief to flood-affected people in Pakistan through its “Sahem” platform.

The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, praised the royal directive of King Salman bin Abdulazeez Al Saud to extend a helping hand to people hit by devastating floods in Pakistan leaving hundreds of people dead, destroying hundreds of thousands of homes and displacing millions of families.

He urged member states, financial and relief institutions and the international community to expedite relief aid to Pakistan’s people, who, he said, were experiencing a humanitarian ordeal that called for stressing the magnanimous Islamic values of solidarity, interdependence and relief.

‘Don’t drown the world’

“I have just returned from Pakistan, where I looked through a window into the future – a future of permanent and ubiquitous climate chaos on an unimaginable scale,” Secretary General Antonio Guterres told a news conference, days before global leaders were due to arrive in New York for the UN General Assembly session.

The UN chief made the appeal to world leaders on Wednesday, asking them to “lower the temperature” so as not to “drown” the world, recalling his recent visit to Pakistan.

“What is happening in Pakistan demonstrates the sheer inadequacy of the global response to the climate crisis, and the betrayal and injustice at the heart of it.”

“My message to world leaders gathering here is clear: lower the temperature -- now. Don’t flood the world today; don’t drown it tomorrow,” he said, denouncing “decades of intransigence by big emitters”, particularly Group of 20 members.

Flood portal

The government’s portal to keep track of flood-related damages and relief efforts went online on Wednesday.

The dashboard, engineered along the lines of the COvid-19 portal managed by the erstwhile NCOC, aims at ensuring transparency in funds allocation to flood survivors. Developed by the government’s National Information Technology Board (NITB) and the newly established National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC), it can be accessed at “nfrcc.nitb.gov.pk”.

It will help keep citizens abreast of deaths, damages, relief measures, funds disbursed, etc. recorded so far and over the past 24 hours across. Both nationwide and region-wise data is also available on the website.

The latest stats show that five people were killed and 4,000 houses and 300 kilometres of road were damaged over the 24 hours besides the “livestock damage” of over 10,000.

Of the five victims, three were from Balochistan and two from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, whereas all the road damages were recorded from Balochistan. In contrast, the entire house and livestock damage was noted in Sindh.

Amin Ahmed in Islamabad and Shahab Nafees in Karachi also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2022

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