A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Country drowning but funding slow compared with responses to other crises
The floods that have engulfed Pakistan over the last week are a mega disaster and the world needs to mount a mega response to ensure the millions affected get the help they need, international aid agency Oxfam said today as it called for a "gear shift" in the response to the crisis.
Almost 14 million people are now affected by the floods in Pakistan according to latest figures, and that number is likely to increase with water now surging south into Sindh Province. The UN now describes the floods as the world's "worst" current disaster but compared with other recent crises the speed of the response to Pakistan's flooding has been sluggish. As of 9 August 2010, according to the UN's financial tracking system, less than $45 million has been committed, plus $91m pledged, which breaks down to $3.20 committed per flood affected person.
This pales in comparison with the amounts committed to other crises. Within the first 10 days of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, which left some 3.5m people homeless, the international community had committed $247m and pledged $45m. This works out to $70 committed per person, 10 days into the crisis.
In the first 10 days after Cyclone Nargis, which affected 2.4m when it struck off the coast of Myanmar, almost $110m was committed (and $109m pledged) in the first 10 days. This works out at $46 committed per person.
Likewise some $742m was committed to Haiti 10 days after the quake and $920 million pledged. Some 1.5m were directly affected by the quake, which works out at $495 per person, in funds committed, in the first 10 days.
Neva Khan, Oxfam country director in Pakistan said:
"The rains are continuing and each hour that passes the flooding is multiplying misery across the entire country. Swathes of Pakistan are still under-water and people have seen homes, shops, schools and crops flattened. The world must not leave these people stranded. This is a mega disaster and it needs a mega response."
To date only five donors - USA, Australia, UK, Italy and Kuwait - have committed or pledged more than $5m in new funding in response to the crisis.
Khan continued: "We have all been shocked by the ferocity and magnitude of this disaster. Everyone - donors, the UN, aid agencies, the government - all of us need to shift gear on this crisis. The people here are living in desperate conditions. This is the biggest disaster in the world right now and we all need to get behind it."
The UN is setting up a humanitarian coordination center in Islamabad, and will launch a comprehensive plan for the disaster in the coming days. The Pakistan government has announced that it will send delegations to other countries to seek financial support for flood-affected people.
Notes to editors
Oxfam and partners are mounting a response across in four provinces Pakistan - Khyber Pakhtoonkkhwa (formally NWFP), Sindh, Kashmir and Punjab. So far the agency has reached more than 100,000 people with clean water and helped local groups evacuate 80,000 stranded people.
Oxfam has been working in Pakistan since 1973. We support local partners and work with government authorities to improve the livelihoods of those living in poverty, and provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by disasters and conflict.
For more information and interviews please contact:
Mubashar Hasan in Pakistan on +923085557219 or email@example.com
Rebecca Wynn in Pakistan on +92 308 555 9694 or +44 7769 887139 or at firstname.lastname@example.org