Oxfam backs Foreign Minister’s call for more support for Pakistan

Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 17 Aug 2010

With around 20 million people now affected by flooding in Pakistan, international aid agency Oxfam Australia has joined the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in appealing to Australians to give generously to support aid efforts.

Oxfam Australia Emergency Manager Richard Young said the Australian Government had proved to be a generous donor to Pakistan by promising an extra $24 million in aid today, but with the UN looking for US$460 million to meet the urgent needs in Pakistan more support was still needed from around the world and from the Australian public.

“20 million people, a number close to the entire population of Australia, have now been affected by this flooding. Huge swathes of the country are under water and there is now a real risk of a looming public health crisis through water-borne and vector-borne disease,” Mr Young said.

“More than 30,000 people have acute watery diarrhea, and we fear that in the coming weeks or even days we could see a substantial increase in severe acute malnutrition. Communities need clean water and sanitation facilities, hygiene kits, and buckets. Oxfam is currently reaching almost 200,000 people with clean water and sanitation, but the resources currently available cover only a fraction of what is required.

“We have seen a slower response from the public to this disaster than we have to other major disasters such as Haiti. We are appealing for Australians to give what they can – every dollar we receive helps us to reach more people with essential aid,” Mr Young said.

Oxfam is now working to scale up its response in Pakistan to reach more than 600,000 people in need. The agency has been working in Pakistan for decades and is coordinating its response with the UN, local authorities and other agencies.

“Aid is getting through, despite the difficulties we’ve faced in many areas with roads and bridges washed away. In the past couple of days, our staff have been able to reach communities in the Upper Swat who had previously been inaccessible. But there is still a huge task ahead of us,” Mr Young said.

Oxfam is appealing for $6.6 million from supporters around the world to enable our staff already in Pakistan to scale up the relief effort and reach more than 600,000 people.

To donate to Oxfam’s Pakistan appeal visit www.oxfam.org.au or phone 1800 034 034
For more information: Contact Kate Thwaites, 0407 515 559, katethwaites@oxfam.org.au
Notes to the editor: Oxfam staff in Pakistan are available for interview.