Plea to do more for Pakistan flood victims

Last updated 05:00 20/08/2010
The area affected by the 2010 Pakistan floods as shown over New Zealand.
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IN CONTEXT: The area affected by the 2010 Pakistan floods as shown over New Zealand.

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The Government is ramping up support to help more than 20 million people affected by the flooding in northwest Pakistan, but aid agencies say New Zealand still needs to do more.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced yesterday that an extra $2m in relief for Pakistan, bringing the total to $4m, following calls from the Council of International Development to increase support.

Unicef New Zealand chief executive Dennis McKinlay said more was still needed. "People have not quite cottoned on to the scale of this disaster, and we're concerned it's not getting the traction – internationally and in New Zealand – it needs."

The Government matched all funding from non-governmental agencies for Southeast Asia's 2005 tsunami for a total pledge of $19m, he said. "The [tsunami] affected around 5m people, compared to 20m in Pakistan."

The public has donated $130,000 so far to Unicef. Mr McKinlay said it hoped to reach $250,000 within two weeks.

Water-borne disease was a huge concern, with cholera cases already reported.

World Vision spokesperson Paul Newnham said it had received about $170,000 in public donations. "But we are still looking for more funds. This is going to be a long-term response."

He said World Vision International estimated the organisation would need $28m to respond. "Globally we've only raised about $2.8m – so there's quite a gap still."

Oxfam spokesman Janna Hamilton said $110,000 had been donated by the New Zealand public. Oxfam was hoping to raise at least $200,000.

She said United Nations figures showed the amount donated in the first 10 days of the flooding was significantly less than donations for other recent disasters on a smaller scale.

After the Haiti earthquake, which affected 1 1/2 million people, $920m was donated in the first 10 days, about US$500 (NZ$702) per affected person. Of that, $2m came from the New Zealand Government. The Pakistan floods received $91m in donations in the first 10 days – US$3.20 (NZ$4.50) a person.

The slow-moving nature of the disaster meant media images were often less compelling and it could be harder to get the public's support, she said.

Red Cross New Zealand international programmes manager Glenn Rose said the organisation had received $350,000 in public donations. Globally, Red Cross had a target of $20m – half of which had been raised so far.

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But the target was likely to double as aid workers gained access to more areas in Pakistan, Mr Rose said. "We need to upscale hugely – this is bigger than big."

Save the Children chief executive Liz Gibbs said the public's response had been amazing given the number of emergencies to which people had already donated this year. The public had given almost $165,000 – $85,000 short of Save the Children's target. The aid agency received about $960,000 for the Haiti relief fund earlier this year.

"Clearly, the need is significantly greater than any of us first realised. The extent is massive ... our experts on the ground tell us 3.5 million children are at extreme risk of water-borne diseases.

"I call on all New Zealanders, including the Government, to continue to support this crisis."

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said earlier this week that about US$227.8m (NZ$320m) – almost half the amount requested – had been raised internationally, and another US$42m had been pledged.

Figures from the Pakistan National Disaster Management Agency on Wednesday counted the death toll at 1463, with 2024 injured and 895,259 houses damaged.


Save the Children: Call 0900 167 168 to donate $20 (charged to phone bill), 0800 167 168 to donate any amount with your credit card or go to

Red Cross: Make a $20 automatic donation by phoning 0900 31 100 or go to

World Vision: Phone 0900 4HOPE (44673) to automatically deduct $30 from your phone bill or go to

Unicef: Call 0800 800 194 or go to

Oxfam: call 0800 400 600 or go to

Also: Other agencies seeking donations include Caritas, Christian World Service and Tear Fund.

- The Dominion Post

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