Pakistan aid effort in jeopardy due to lack of funds and UN blockage



    
    Aid agencies face closure of projects as money fails to arrive - worst
    case of funding in a decade
    

    LONDON, June 11 /CNW/ - A group of nine major international aid
agencies(1) said on Thursday that their aid effort of reaching over one
million victims of the fighting in Swat valley of Pakistan was under threat
due to a lack of funds. The agencies face a shortfall in excess of (pnds
stlg)26 million (C$47 million).
    World Vision faces a (pnds stlg)7.5 million ($13.6 million) shortfall
while Oxfam and Save the Children both face deficits of (pnds stlg)4 million
($7 million) each. Oxfam will have to close its programmes to the 360,000
people it had planned to assist if money does not arrive by July. Concern
Worldwide will also have to close its programme mid-July, just when the health
risks will escalate due to the onset of the monsoon rains.
    "This is the worst funding crisis we've faced in over a decade for a
major humanitarian emergency. Some 2.5 million people have fled their homes.
One month into this emergency, Oxfam is (pnds stlg)4 million ($7 million)
short and will have to turn our backs on some of the world's most vulnerable
people. In the same period after the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, we had (pnds
stlg)14 million ($25 million) committed from the UN, governments and the
public," said Jane Cocking, Oxfam's Humanitarian Director.
    The funding crisis is not affecting the agencies alone. The UN's US$543
million ($603 million) appeal has only received US$138 million ($153 million)
so far. This is a 75 per cent shortfall. Out of the 52 organizations
requesting UN appeal funds, 30 have received no funds at all.
    The vast majority of the funds the UN appeal has received came before the
recent outpouring of people from the Swat valley, which swelled the number of
displaced from 500,000 to 2.5 million people in early May, the largest
internal displacement of people in Pakistan's history. Since May rich
countries have contributed a mere US$50 million ($56 million) to the UN
appeal, a minuscule nine per cent of the total required.
    The US, the world's richest nation, is by far the greatest contributor to
the fund at US$68 million ($75 million), giving 12.5 per cent of what is
required since the initial crisis began in October 2008. The sixth richest
country, the UK, has given 1.6 per cent of requirements, Japan, the world's
second largest economy, has given 1.4 per cent, Germany, fourth richest
country, has given 1.3 per cent, Canada 1.0 per cent, Australia 0.8 per cent,
Norway 0.4 per cent, Italy 0.3 per cent, Netherlands 0.3 per cent, Sweden 0.2
per cent, France 0.02 per cent.
    The agencies said that besides little money going into the UN appeal, the
problem was also that even less money is being dispersed to frontline agencies
from the appeal. In a humanitarian crisis speed of delivery is vital.
Previously governments would give part of their aid money directly to
frontline agencies. Now when governments do give aid money, it tends to go to
the UN which then passes it on to agencies working on the ground. Though the
UN system can improve coordination and reduce duplication of effort, the
allocation of money to frontline agencies takes far too long. The UN funding
system needs to be complemented with other diverse ways of getting aid money
as swiftly as possible to those saving lives.
    Five weeks into the escalation of the crisis, the UK's Department for
International Development says that it will now directly fund those frontline
non-governmental agencies working within the UN appeal. Welcome as this change
is, it will require other donors to be equally as flexible to cover the
agencies' (pnds stlg)26 million ($47 million) shortfall.
    "With monsoon rains due by July, serious health risks will increase as
water sources become contaminated and sanitation worsens. At a time when the
risks of malaria, respiratory infection and diarrhoea start to escalate,
agencies will be forced to close down our programmes.
    "The only reason we haven't faced a massive humanitarian meltdown is the
generosity of families and communities of modest means who've looked after the
vast majority of those who've fled the fighting. With so many mouths to feed,
these communities will soon be running on empty. The world's richest nations
need to dig much deeper into their pockets to help," said Carolyn Miller,
Chief Executive of Merlin.

    Notes to editors:

    ActionAid plans to support approximately 28,000 people (4,500 families)
in both camps and host communities in Swabi, Mardan and Hasan Abdal over the
next 12 months. This will include the distribution of food, provision of
hygiene kits and medicine, provision of health and hygiene sessions and
establishment of mobile health camps. Teachers will be recruited to operate in
eight schools reaching 1,500 displaced children alongside provision of school
kits. Recreational and sports activities will be organized for young people. A
psychosocial consultant will also be hired to train local partners and
volunteers to support displaced and trauma victims. ActionAid will also lobby
government to take leadership in the response and ensure better coordination
at ground level. 450 families have been reached to-date with food and non-food
items support. ActionAid has raised approximately 60,000 through in-country
resources and individual supporters in the UK but has identified a funding gap
of (pnds stlg)300,000 ($543,000) to support longer-term work.

    Working with local partners CARE has distributed stockpiled tents and
kitchen utensils worth (pnds stlg)100,000 ($181,000) and 500 displaced
families, and started health camps to provide emergency medical care with
(pnds stlg)80,000 ($145,000) raised from trusts. CARE's overall goal is to
save lives and reduce suffering of 70,000 conflict-affected IDPs in North West
Frontier Province (NWFP) over the next 12 months. CARE needs (pnds stlg)3.9
million ($7.1 million) to do this and is unable to carry out activities on a
significant scale until we receive further funding.

    Concern Worldwide is responding to the crisis to address the urgent
humanitarian needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in District Mardan
in the NWFP. They are currently providing essential non-food items and hygiene
kits to approximately 22,400 IDPs (3,200 families) in four union councils,
working with a local partner. Both Concern and its partner have the capacity
to increase the scale of this response significantly; however, at this point
in time funding alone is its biggest constraint. So far Concern has committed
approximately (pnds stlg)180,000 ($326,000) from its funds, is awaiting
written confirmation from a donor of approximately (pnds stlg)90,000
($163,000), and is in the process of applying to other donors for funding that
will allow them to reach at least 10,000 families or 70,000 people. Concern's
funding will run out in mid July. Without additional funding it will have to
cease its operations leaving the IDPs, particularly those amongst host
communities, at risk of becoming even more vulnerable to hunger, disease and
death if their immediate needs are not met.

    Islamic Relief Worldwide is currently working in two Union councils of
Mardan district focusing on IDPs living with host communities. With the
limited resources available from funding agencies coupled with the lack of
media exposure, Islamic Relief Worldwide has developed a plan to support
97,968 beneficiaries for six months with an estimated cost of (pnds stlg) 1
million ($1.8 million). This support is focused in the areas of distribution
of non-food items, primary health care, psychosocial support to traumatized
children/women and search and reunification of children and elderly who were
separated from their families. The intervention is implemented through Islamic
Relief Pakistan. It is clear that the needs outweigh the resources allocated
and Islamic Relief Worldwide hopes that the international community will
release further funds in order for it to respond quickly and in an effective
manner.

    Merlin is currently providing basic health services to around 220,000
displaced people in camps and host communities in Mardan, Nowshera and
Peshawar districts; however funds received through the UN (from CERF and other
institutional donors) have been very limited and currently will finish at the
end of June. Funds received directly from institutional donors have also been
very limited. If no additional funds are received soon, Merlin will not be
able to sustain the level of services to the current and increasing numbers of
displaced people. At present less than 40 per cent of health needs are
covered. Should service provision further decrease, this will have a
disastrous impact on the health status of IDPs and host communities with high
potential for widespread epidemics.

    Oxfam launched a (pnds stlg)5.5 million ($10 million) response on May 8,
working with local partners. Oxfam is responding with essential humanitarian
relief and services, particularly water and sanitation, and are currently
aiming to reach 360,000 people. Oxfam is currently underwriting the response
with its own funds and around (pnds stlg)100,000 ($181,000) of money raised
from supporters. Unless Oxfam raises additional money, it will have to close
its operation in July. Oxfam is currently reaching less people than it would
like to due to the limited funding, for example, Oxfam is providing safe water
to just 50,000 people instead of the planned 120,000.

    Save the Children plans to reach 280,000 displaced people, including
168,000 children, with urgently needed healthcare, non-food relief items and
child protection work. Around 40,000 people have been reached so far, but to
date only (pnds stlg)2.6 million ($4.7 million) of the (pnds stlg)6.6 million
($12 million) needed by Save the Children for its initial response has been
secured. Save the Children has begun distributing food for 170,000 people and
will be transferring US$45 ($50) cash grants to 5,000 households each month to
support essential household costs. Save the Children is especially concerned
by the looming educational crisis which sees an estimated 10,000 classrooms
currently occupied by IDPs, meaning that there are virtually no learning
opportunities for at least 1.7 million children. Despite this, as of the
beginning of this week the education cluster, of which Save the Children is
global co-lead, had still received no funding.

    One month on from the start of its emergency response, World Vision has
only received a fraction of the US$13 million ($14.5 million) it needs to
reach 300,000 of the displaced people taking refuge in host communities in
Buner, Swabi and Mardan districts. World Vision's assessment of the crisis
found people are in great need of improved health services, hygiene,
education, water, shelter and sanitation facilities. The humanitarian agency
will soon receive food and US$398,000 ($442,000) cash from the World Food
Programme, which will benefit 195,000 people in Mardan district until
December. The agency has received no other funding through the UN funding
mechanism. With limited private donations, the agency has been able to reach
3,500 people with health kits, mattresses and essential household items.

    
    ----------------------------
    (1) ActionAid, CAFOD/Caritas, Care, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief,
        Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision
    





For further information:

For further information: or to interview World Vision staff, contact:
Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),
yoko_kobayashi@WorldVision.ca; Alex Sancton, (905) 565-6200 ext. 3949, (416)
419-1321 (cell), alex_sancton@WorldVision.ca


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