A US senator has described the $53 million USAID for flood-hit Pakistan as “a drop in the bucket”, urging President Joe Biden to increase the amount in order to provide much-needed relief to a roughly estimated 30 million displaced people.
“We have to get a disaster relief package for Pakistan from the US Congress and organise a national donors conference for the flood victims in Pakistan,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Bob Menendez said while addressing an event organised by the Pakistani-American community here.
The devastating floods in Pakistan, according to the federal ministers, have caused a loss of up to $40 billion. More than 1,500 people have lost their lives with one-third of the country still submerged.
“We need to stand together with Pakistan” and “I am willing to work with anyone in the US Congress who is willing to work with us to help Pakistan”, Menendez said.
The US senator expressed condolences over the loss of lives due to devastating floods in Pakistan, saying: “I will make this case for Pakistan in front of President Biden.”
Speaking at the event, Ambassador Masood Khan said: “There has to be an international strategy to save the world from the scourge of a number of repeated and deadly climate-driven disasters and in this context the United States has to play the role of leadership.”
The ambassador also acknowledged the role of Pakistani-American community, humanitarian organisations, civil society members and philanthropists in mobilising support for the flood victims in Pakistan.
“The real challenge lies ahead as we enter into the phase of bringing life back to the flood-affected areas, rebuilding roads, repairing and restoring infrastructure, cultivate crop land and construct houses, schools and hospitals,” Masood said, adding that this was a Herculean task for which Pakistan would need continued support of the US on a multi-year basis.
Masood thanked Menendez, the US Congress and the US government for expressing solidarity with Pakistan and for providing timely assistance for the initial stage of flood response in Pakistan.
Ambassador Masood lauded Senator Menendez for personally monitoring the flood situation in Pakistan, reaching out to the administration for providing urgent humanitarian assistance for rescue and relief operations and for making a long-term commitment for rehabilitation and reconstruction.
He appreciated the US for acknowledging the connection between extreme weather patterns because of climate change and the unprecedented floods in Pakistan.
Speaking at a separate event organised by the American Pakistani Public Affairs Committee (APPAC), Menendez reiterated that the US government provided $53 million as humanitarian assistance for flood victims but “this is like a drop in the bucket and we would need to do more for flood victims”.
Consul General of Pakistan in New York Ayesha Ali appreciated the role of Pakistani-American community in raising donations for the flood-affected people in Pakistan, saying: “Our diaspora community has always stood up in times of need and have always given back to Pakistan.”
Ayesha said, “The biggest challenge would be in the recovery and relief phase and we should continue to support the flood victims in Pakistan.”
APPAC President Dr Ijaz Ahmed thanked Senator Menendez and Ambassador Masood for attending the event. He expressed solidarity with the flood victims in Pakistan, saying that APPAC would make all-out efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the people who had been badly affected by the devastating floods.
The event was attended by representatives from different humanitarian organisations and vibrant members of Pakistani-American community.
Two humanitarian organisations announced that they had raised $6 million and $5 million respectively to provide relief to the flood-affectees in Pakistan.