Offers airlift, sealift facilities as part of flood relief effort

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has decided to provide airlift and sealift facilities to Pakistan for delivery of relief material donated by nations and humanitarian relief organisations.

The first NATO aircraft — bearing relief materials, including power generators, water pumps and tents from Slovakia — is expected to touch down here on Sunday.

These services are being offered to Pakistan in response to a request from the government to expedite the arrival of relief material; made all the more necessary as markets here are running out of readymade material required for relief operations.

Since it made the first request for humanitarian assistance early this month, the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre at NATO headquarters in Brussels has been acting as a clearing house for relief material offered by allies and partner nations.

Meanwhile, with various countries pledging $ 254 million at the plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly on Pakistan floods this past Thursday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has thanked governments for boosting the relief efforts.

“We must keep it up. This is not just Pakistan's hour of need — Pakistan is facing weeks, months and years of need. Now is our chance to turn the tide towards hope and a better day for all of the people of Pakistan,” he said in a statement, amid growing fears of terrorists taking advantage of the catastrophe.

Till date, over $ 800 million has been either pledged or received for the flood affected in cash and kind; some of it through bilateral arrangements and the bulk routed via the U.N. and other humanitarian agencies.

According to the Fund Tracking System of the U.N., $490 million had come in and $ 325 million pledged.

While this meets the target set in the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan issued by the U.N. on August 11, the unfolding nature of the catastrophe is such that aid agencies maintain that much more would be needed to rebuild the country, as large swathes of territory had been washed away with all the infrastructure; particularly in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa.

In fact, the U.N. had flagged the idea of revising the target as mid-September, as the number of people requiring immediate assistance is mounting with the deluge continuing.

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