Noting that the flood situation in Pakistan is unlikely to get better soon, the United States has said more American aid is expected to be announced for the flood-ravaged nation.
The U.S., so far, has announced more than $ 76 million for the humanitarian flood relief work in Pakistan which has affected an estimated 20 million people.
The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has termed it as a worse natural calamity than tsunami or the Haiti earthquake.
“I don’t think anyone’s under any illusions that it’s going to get better soon. So I think we’re constantly going to re-evaluate where we’re at and possibly increase assistance,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said.
“We are fully cognisant of the fact that it’s going to need a lot of assistance over the long haul. I don’t think anyone is expecting this to be a short-term humanitarian need,” Mr. Toner said.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon yesterday said it has intensified its relief effort in Pakistan. Since August 5, U.S. military has rescued 3,978 flood victims and transported more than 500,000 pounds of food and relief supplies.
“Everything that we’re doing is at the request of the Pakistani government,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
“So everything that we’re providing, where we’re taking it to, who we’re delivering it to... anything we’re providing is specifically at the request of the Pakistani government,” he said.
The Defence Department has spent about $ 300,000 a day on flight operations. The total operational cost so far is around $ 2.5 million.
This number is only a “small part of the federal government expenditure,” he said.
The U.S. has deployed 11 helicopters and three cargo planes and more are on their way. Defence Secretary Robert Gates last week ordered a contingent of 19 U.S. helicopters to Pakistan.
Mr. Whitman could not say when the remaining helicopters would arrive.
“I don’t believe we’ve gotten to the point where we can estimate the totality of the support that’s needed. It’s obviously a very devastating flood. The U.N., as well as Pakistani authorities, have called in a broad international assistance,” Mr. Whitman said.
Responding to a reporter’s question, Mr. Whitman said it does not look like the situation is getting any better.
“It’s a dire situation, and just by the number of rescues the U.S. military has done with the limited aviation assets on the ground with 11 helicopters, you can see people’s lives are being saved every day by having some of these capabilities there,” he said.