The United Nations refugee agency is calling for increased relief efforts in the province of Balochistan in Pakistan, where two million people have been affected by flooding.
“By any definition it is a humanitarian tragedy in Balochistan,” said Mengesha Kebede, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Press Service reported from a news conference in Islamabad today. “We need to scale up our activities in the province, if not, I think we are heading for a major humanitarian disaster there,” he said.
But international donations to Pakistan have been slower to come than for some other natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti in January. That delay has been attributed to many factors including donor fatigue, less media coverage, potential donors being on summer vacation, and concern that some donations might fall into the hands of extremist groups in the region. The UN press service reports that about 63% of the $460 million the UN and its humanitarian partners seek for relief efforts in Pakistan has been covered by $291 million in funds received and another $20 million in pledges.
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the aid and development agency for the Anglican Church of Canada, has been collecting funds for relief efforts in Pakistan that will be channeled through Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance. Through this international ecumenical organization, of which PWRDF is a member, relief workers and local partners deliver food, emergency shelter, hygiene kits, water and other emergency relief items to people in the flood zone.
PWRDF’s finance and administration manager Jill Martin says that only about $25,600 in donations had been received by the end of August, but she explained that that was only the amount that had been sent directly to PWRDF’s office in Toronto. “Most of our donations come in at the parish level so there’s a time lag,” before the full amount can be calculated, she said.
Donations received between Aug. 2 and Sept. 12 will go further because the Canadian government has promised to match donations dollar for dollar. The matching funds will go into the government’s Pakistan Floods Relief Fund and will be administered by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Organizations such as PWRDF will be able to apply to CIDA to access the funds.
In August, PWRDF prepared a special appeal bulletin for distribution at church services across the country. The bulletin outlined the amount PWRDF has already contributed to relief efforts. This includes an initial grant of $15,000 for rapid response by ACT members. PWRDF also donated funds from its account in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) to a joint project that will feed 3,000 families for two months. In addition, as part of an initiative by Canadian Churches in Action, PWRDF received $50,000 from the Manitoba Council for International Co-operation to provide emergency shelter for 550 affected families.
Contributions to PWRDF’s appeal can be made online at www.pwrdf.org/give designated for Pakistan flood. For credit card donations, contact Jennifer Brown at (416) 924-9192 ext. 320 or at 1-866-308-7973. Please do not send your credit card number by e-mail or fax. Cheques payable to PWRDF, Pakistan Flood can also be sent to PWRDF at 80 Hayden St., Toronto, Ont. M4Y 3G2.