About the Author: Haroon Ullah serves as Pakistan Desk Officer at the U.S. Department of State.
Starting 21 days ago, floods began wreaking havoc across Pakistan. Wiping out towns and villages, the flood waters swept from the North to the South. This tragedy has taken on epic and devastating proportions. It is difficult to understand the scale of this disaster.
• The floods have affected and displaced an estimated 20 million people, which is more than the population of all of New York State.
• For comparison, the flood-affected area is equal to the size of Italy, or slightly larger then the entire State of Arizona.
• Disease and malnutrition are the biggest threats to the flood victims, with more than 3.5 million children at risk for waterborne diseases, according to UN officials.
That is why Secretary Clinton announced the establishment of the Pakistan Relief Fund. The United States Government, through the Department of State, set up the Fund to call attention to the immediate need to help those who are suffering. This Fund allows individuals and organizations to support relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts in Pakistan.
The American people have always been extremely generous to those facing crises. And that is why today we are asking people to make a contribution to help those in need. It is important to know that anything you can give will have a positive impact. As little as $10 can make a difference by providing a mother or a child with a blanket. You can provide help right now by making an online contribution, texting "Flood" to 27722 from your mobile phone to give $10, or by downloading this form and mailing it with your check.
As we saw after the tragedy in Haiti, the sacrifice and generosity of people helped save lives, and we can make that same difference today in Pakistan. In New York on August 19, hundreds of people came together to raise awareness on the flood disaster at the Asia Society with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, Under Secretary of State Judith McHale, Chairman of Open Society George Soros, President of the International Rescue Committee George Rupp, President of Oxfam America Raymond C. Offenheiser, and Pakistani musician Salman Ahmad, among others. The event was broadcast live in Pakistan, and the people of Pakistan were able to see Americans standing side by side with them in this hour of need, especially during the blessed time of Ramadan.
As Secretary Clinton said yesterday, "I want the people of Pakistan to know that the United States will stand with you during this crisis. We will be with you as rivers rise and fall. We will be with you as you replant your fields and repair your roads. We will be with you as you meet the long-term challenges to build a stronger nation and a better future."
We must give hope to the people of Pakistan.