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.
The two-day Pakistan Development Forum has just ended in Islamabad, and Oxfam's country director in Pakistan, Neva Khan, explains Oxfam's reaction:
"This meeting was a rare chance for donors to think outside the box for solutions to tackle some fundamental issues thrown up by the floods – one of the most devastating natural disasters this country has ever seen. However, the Pakistan Development Forum has tinkered on the fringes of these problems, rather than boldly tackle them head-on. There were chances to grapple with wide-ranging reforms of existing structural problems to do with agriculture and the economy. One of the most important missed opportunities was a chance to address land reform, which has the potential to reduce inequality, put earning power into the hands of many landless women and end bonded-labor.
On pledges of support:
"Although this meeting wasn’t billed as a pledging conference, Oxfam welcomes the financial commitments made to assist with Pakistan’s recovery. These pledges need to be grants that deliver new and substantial humanitarian aid quickly and effectively to the people on the ground who are in desperate need of assistance. With winter looming and almost seven million people without shelter, donors must not forget that many parts of Pakistan are still facing a serious emergency even though some areas are moving towards recovery."
On tax reform:
"Oxfam welcomes the emphasis on tax reform, especially given that only two per cent of Pakistanis pay tax. However, this should be a more equitable reform that does not put the burden onto the poorest, those who are least able to pay. Any price increase on basic necessities could put post-flood recovery out of reach for the very poor."
On debt cancellation:
"Oxfam welcomes the Government of Pakistan’s call for debt cancellation. This year Pakistan will spend $2.9 billion on servicing foreign debts – $1 billion more than is being asked for by the UN appeal. However the international community and the Government of Pakistan must ensure foreign debt cancellation is spent transparently on the post-flood response, targeting those hit hardest by the floods."
Notes to editors
Caroline Gluck, Oxfam Humanitarian Press Officer
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Currently in Pakistan +92 (0)308 555 7219