350 million euro extra flood funding, but victims still suffering
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have agreed to jointly provide additional aid to flood-hit Pakistan but both also insisted that the country needed to continue its economic reforms, officials said on Thursday. The announcement comes as angry outbursts by flood victims reliant on scarce aid are hampering relief work in Pakistan, the Red Cross said.
The money will come from the bank’s fund for the poorest countries, the International Development Association, where loans are concessional and carry no interest payments.
“In response to this [flood] I will ask the IMF Board to approve 350 million euros in emergency assistance to be made available this month,” said IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
The World Bank’s President, Robert B Zoellick, added another 80 million euros to 700 million already committed.
“The World Bank is committed to helping the people of Pakistan during this time of need and has made 780 million euros available to finance immediate recovery needs and longer-term reconstruction,” he said.
“We need to respond strongly to the crisis at hand, but we need to do it without losing sight of important economic reforms,” said Zoellick.
Under a 2008 loan programme with the IMF, Pakistan pledged to implement tax and energy sector reforms, reduce inflation, curb budget deficit and give full autonomy to the State Bank.
The extra funding comes a month after monsoons triggered catastrophic flooding throughout the country, submerging an area the size of England. Eight million people remain dependent on handouts for their survival, which they say are too slow coming.
Aid workers say they have fled outbreaks of violence among the frustrated survivors living in makeshift camps, while there have been isolated, spontaneous protests that have occasionally forced road closures.
Jacques de Maio, the head of operations for South Asia for ICRC, said it had to halt two distributions recently due to unrest.
"What we are detecting is a very worrying trend of areas where ... people are so in need, so resentful of not getting enough aid, that they turn understandably aggressive and this is bad because it doesn't help in our efforts to reach more of them," he said in Geneva Thursday.
While the international community has donated 545 million euros, domestic anger has been mounting against the widely unpopular civilian government, which has come under fire for its handling of the crisis.
The UN has warned that the slow pace of aid pledges could impede relief operations and says Pakistan faces a triple threat to food supplies - with seeds, crops and incomes hit.
"Given the number of those in need, this is a humanitarian operation of unprecedented scale," said Manuel Bessler, head of the UN's coordination agency Ocha.