Pakistan — U.S. Aid to Pakistani Flood Victims Ramps Up

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2010 — U.S. Army heli­copters took advan­tage of a break in the weath­er to fly relief mis­sions in Pak­istan yes­ter­day and today, res­cu­ing 916 peo­ple and deliv­er­ing 89,000 pounds of relief sup­plies.

Four Chi­nook heli­copters and two Black Hawks aid­ed Pak­istani offi­cials in the north­west­ern part of the coun­try, where flood­ing and land­slides have iso­lat­ed large swaths of Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa province.

To date, U.S. heli­copters have res­cued 2,305 peo­ple and trans­port­ed 211,000 pounds of sup­plies in 40 sor­ties. Weath­er has been a tremen­dous obsta­cle, with mon­soon rains still falling over the area. The chop­pers, based in Afghanistan’s Ghazi air base, could not fly for two days ear­li­er this week.

The flood­ing in Pak­istan may end up being the biggest nat­ur­al dis­as­ter in the nation’s his­to­ry, Unit­ed Nations offi­cials said yes­ter­day.

The dead­ly floods, trig­gered by the mon­soon, have spread from Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa province to the more pop­u­lous provinces of Pun­jab, Balochis­tan and Sindh in the south, said Mar­tin Mog­wan­ja, U.N. human­i­tar­i­an coor­di­na­tor for Pak­istan.

The flood­ing has destroyed or bad­ly dam­aged more than 250,000 homes, and has left at least 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple home­less, accord­ing to Pak­istani and U.N. fig­ures. Pak­istani offi­cials say around 1,600 peo­ple have died in the floods, and per­haps 4.5 mil­lion peo­ple are affect­ed in some way in the coun­try.

“What makes this unique is the scale of the dis­as­ter and its effect through­out the entire coun­try,” U.S. Ambas­sador to Pak­istan Anne W. Pat­ter­son said Aug. 6. “The earth­quake and the dis­place­ment of 2 mil­lion peo­ple from the Swat Val­ley were more local­ized. So while the loss of life … in this dis­as­ter may be less, the eco­nom­ic impact and the need for recon­struc­tion assis­tance over time could well be greater.”

The num­ber of affect­ed peo­ple is expect­ed to rise to 6 mil­lion by the end of the week, as the flood waters on the Indus Riv­er move south. At least 92 bridges over the riv­er and its trib­u­taries have been destroyed, and more than 200 major roads have been dam­aged, Pat­ter­son said. “There are four major dams at risk,” she said. “Crop and live­stock loss will affect long-term liveli­hood and food secu­ri­ty.”

Offi­cials with the U.N.’s World Food Pro­gram esti­mat­ed that as many as 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple will require food assis­tance.

The Unit­ed States has added $35 mil­lion in assis­tance to the $10 mil­lion already allo­cat­ed. “Our [Defense Depart­ment] col­leagues, rec­og­niz­ing the grow­ing cri­sis, imme­di­ate­ly went on a search for emer­gency meals,” Pat­ter­son said. “On [Aug. 7], U.S. air­crews aboard the U.S. Air Force C‑130 and C‑17 trans­port air­craft flew into Rawalpin­di and deliv­ered about 50,000 halal meals in sup­port of a Pak­istan gov­ern­ment request. That num­ber grew through the week to near­ly 436,000 meals.” Halal meals con­form with Islam­ic law.

The Unit­ed States also has pro­vid­ed pre­fab­ri­cat­ed steel bridges, inflat­able boats and water fil­tra­tion capa­bil­i­ties.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter