ISLAMABAD (AP) — The United States has boosted assistance to Pakistan’s flood relief efforts, announcing $10 million in aid, in addition to Washington's already announced financial assistance of $56.1 million, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
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 came weeks after the U.S. set up a humanitarian air bridge to help the impoverished South Asian nation. Once the scale of the devastation became clear, the United Nations appealed for $160 million in emergency funding to help over 33 million people affected by the floods.
The ministry statement followed a meeting on Monday between Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington. It said the two discussed the unprecedented floods, caused in part by climate-change and that Bhutto-Zardari thanked the U.S. government for its assistance.
“No country could deal with a crisis of this proportion on its own," the ministry quoted Bhutto-Zardari as telling 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, Bhutto-Zardari added. According to the statement, Blinken expressed his condolences over the loss of “precious lives and monumental economic losses" and reaffirmed U.S. commitment to help Pakistan in the wake of the floods.
“We will continue to stand by Pakistan, to stand by its people, today and in the days to come,” Blinken said Monday at an event in Washington marking 75 years of U.S.-Pakistan relations, according to the State Department.
The devastation wreaked by the floods this summer in Pakistan has also highlighted the disproportionate effect of climate change on impoverished nations. Experts say Pakistan is responsible for only 0.4% of the world’s historic emissions blamed for climate change.
Last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in an interview with The Associated Press detailed the scope of the disaster and exhorted world leaders gathered for their annual meeting at the United Nations General Assembly to stand together and raise resources “to build resilient infrastructure, to build adaptation, so that our future generations are saved.”
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, 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. U.N. agencies and several countries, including the U.S., have so far sent 129 planeloads of aid.
Even as they contend with the unprecedented flooding, 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.