Pakistan crisis – aid effort in jeopardy due to lack of funds

Emergencies, Media Releases article written on the 11 Jun 2009

Pakistan crisis – aid effort in jeopardy due to lack of funds
Two of Australia’s largest aid agencies said today their efforts to help more than 600,000 people affected by fighting in the Swat Valley in Pakistan are in jeopardy because of a lack of funding from wealthy governments and others around the world.
Oxfam will have to close its programs designed to provide urgently needed supplies like water to 360,000 people if it does not receive extra funding by July, while World Vision is facing a $15 million shortfall for its program.
Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director Andrew Hewett said the funding crisis is the worst the aid agencies have faced in over a decade for a major humanitarian emergency.
“The situation in Pakistan is extremely serious. More than two and a half million people have had to flee their homes because of the fighting – the largest internal displacement of people in the country’s history. But unfortunately, we will have to turn our backs on vulnerable people if we don’t get extra funds soon.
“One month into the Pakistan crisis, Oxfam’s program is almost $7 million short of its required target. In comparison, in the same period after the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, Oxfam already had more than $28 million committed from the UN, governments and the public,” Mr Hewett said.
World Vision’s Deputy Chief Executive, Paul Ronalds, said there was an urgent need for more funding for Pakistan from wealthy governments and others around the world.
"It’s not just aid agencies that are short of the money they need to help those suffering in Pakistan. The UN’s appeal is so far only 25 per cent funded.
“We do need the international community to step up on this. The Australian Government has generously committed $12 million to helping those affected by this crisis, but there is still a massive funding shortfall,” Mr Ronalds said.
The agencies said it was also important that the funding being pledged for the UN’s appeal made its way as quickly as possible to the frontline efforts, including aid agencies, where it is most needed to help the women, men and children affected by this crisis.
“With monsoon rains due by July, serious risks to people’s health will increase. Water sources can become contaminated and sanitation worsens. At a time when the risks of malaria, respiratory inspection and diarrhoea start to escalate, agencies will be forced to close down our programs,” Mr Hewett said.
“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, and put them up in their houses and communities. With so many mouths to feed, these communities are stretched to the limit. The world’s richest nations need to dig much deeper into their pockets to help,” Mr Ronalds said.
For more information contact: For Oxfam Australia, Kate Thwaites 0407 515 559,
For World Vision, Dominic McInerney 0428 584 809