Today, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Dan Feldman and USAID Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance Mark Ward provided an update on U.S. flood relief assistance to Pakistan. Mr. Ward began the briefing by speaking by his recent travel to the region. He said:
"I visited two parts of the country because I wanted to see in the south an area where the flood waters were still apparent, and I wanted to visit a part of the country in the north where the flood waters had gone down and people were starting to go home, so that I could see the contrast in the assistance that we are providing. I went to a place called Pano Aqil in the north of Sindh where the water was still pretty apparent. And it was terrific because I got to see firsthand what the U.S. military is doing. Their helicopters were still there, still delivering emergency food to communities or parts of communities that were cut off because of the floodwaters."
Mr. Ward continued, "It was also great to see the role that the Pakistan military is playing. They were there with us in the helicopters. They are planning the missions every day and they really were the first responders when the flood hurt -- floods hit. We got there very quickly, but it's important to remember that the Pakistan military was out even faster. And we heard some wonderful stories when I was there about their response in those first couple of days. The waters are going down in Sindh, not as quickly as anyone would like. It's not raining, so the floodwaters we know will go down. And in fact, in one of the district's hardest hit, Dadu district, people are starting to go home and that's a very good sign.
"We continue to focus on the same three concerns in that area that we've been talking about in every briefing we've given you. Number one, getting clean water to people before they get home. And we do that a number of ways by actually getting water filtration units down there so that the water can be cleaned, but also getting them lots and lots of tablets and sachets of these chemicals that can clean water. We're also buying every bar of soap manufactured in Pakistan and getting it to those people -- hundreds of thousands of bars of soap -- because it's so important to keep the public hygiene in check. So far, we've managed, as we've said before, to keep cholera to a very manageable level. We've also been focusing from the beginning on temporary shelter for people before they can get home, so we continue to send in lots and lots of tarps, plastic sheeting, and tents to the people that haven't gotten home yet.
"Food was -- has always been our third area of focus and the World Food Program continues to get access to more parts of the country as the water goes down, and they estimate that this month they will get -- be able to deliver food to 7.5 million people in October."
After discussing the three areas of focus, Mr. Ward reflected on what he saw while he was in Pakistan. He said, "What struck me the most when I visited two communities in that province is the resilience of the people. We went to one community that was very hard to get to -- it took us a long time off of any paved road. And when we got there, this community was surrounded by mud, as you would expect, it wasn't far away from the Indus River or the Kabul River. I'm not sure which one it was right there. There was a lot of mud, understandably, but the communities were taking that mud and rebuilding their shelter. They know winter's coming and they know they don't have a whole lot of time, so they were taking the initiative to do that.
"We also saw people, if they had the wherewithal to do it, that were tilling the silt and the mud from the floods into the soil because they know they have to get seeds in the ground. Again, they know winter's coming. They know they've got to grow the Rabi wheat. The winter wheat season is upon us and they also need to get some vegetables in the ground. And the third thing we saw that was very encouraging was that Pakistani officials had already been out to this community to test the water coming out of the wells."
Complementing Mr. Ward's remarks, Deputy Special Representative Feldman previewed a series of upcoming meetings on Pakistan. He said, "On the series of upcoming meetings, we've got three in particular that are worth highlighting. The most imminent is the Friends of Democratic Pakistan ministerial, which will be in Brussels at the end of this week on Friday and will be preceded by a day -- by a senior officials meeting on Thursday. The senior officials meeting is quite significant because we are making it extremely substantive in that the World Bank and the ADB, the Asian Development Bank, have both agreed to give the first preview of the damage and needs assessment which they have undertook in terms of the long-term reconstruction needs for Pakistan.
"...Second, next week from Wednesday to Friday will be the Strategic Dialogue. We can brief more about it, perhaps next week as plans finalize. But the Pakistani delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Qureshi. As we have done in the past, this will be our third ministerial-level Strategic Dialogue meeting this year. We had the first one in the spring here in Washington, the second one in July in Islamabad, and then the third one here. Really, almost unprecedented in the degree of high-level engagement and representation between the two countries.
"...And then lastly in the path forward is the Pakistan Development Forum, which will be held in Islamabad. A date still to be determined, but we're looking at mid November or perhaps late November."
Mr. Feldman also provided an update on what the United States is doing through government, private sector and diaspora community efforts to support Pakistan. He said:
"...[T]he government has now committed $383 million to relief and recovery efforts, 333 million of which is just on the relief effort, 50 million is what Dr. Shah announced in Pakistan about a month ago dedicated to recovery efforts. That's not including the monetization of the DOD assets, including the helicopter support, the halal meals, infrastructure which we now estimate at about 68 million, so altogether a USG commitment at this point of over $450 million.
"In terms of the military support, the helicopters are still flying. I know there were some questions about exactly what has been curtailed or not. At this point, per our press release, it's only the fixed wing assets -- the C-17 and C-130 flights -- that have stopped given the receding of the floodwaters. The last flight on that went out October 3rd. But the helicopters still remain between 25 and 30 at this point. To date, those helicopters, the combination of both the military and civilian helicopters, have evacuated more than 21,000 people and delivered approximately 15 million pounds of relief supplies, so a very, very significant commitment from the U.S. Government. In addition, the overall international picture is that about 65 nations thus far have contributed over $1.5 billion to flood relief efforts. Of the UN's revised relief plan -- as you recall, just before the General Assembly met, they revised their relief plan upward to $2 billion -- roughly 33 percent of that is funded, so about $668 million according to our figures.
"In addition to government and international contributions, we wanted to showcase the private sector support. Over $10.5 million from U.S. private sector companies, over 80 corporations contributing to this, particularly large contributions from GE, which gave a million dollars; BP; Boeing, which is commissioning a humanitarian flight; and Proctor & Gamble, which, as Mark noted, we've got a particular focus now on water purification. And so in particular, the relief fund that the Secretary announced has now raised over $600,000. We took the first $500,000 of that from the fund. We matched it with in kind assistance from Proctor & Gamble on these purification sachets and an additional $1 million from USAID -- so for a total $2 million package on water purification.
"We're working with 13 local NGOs to get those packets out and provide clean water. The first of those went out October 1st, the second tranche went out a few days ago, and then there will be a final tranche. So we're really putting this relief fund money directly into the most needed asset, which is clean water.
"Just finally in terms of the Pakistani-American diaspora, that we, by our tracking, has raised at least $21 million. There was a very successful concert, which they helped to plan and host last week with John Legend, which raised over half a million dollars, and other Pakistani-American organizations are holding a variety of major fundraisers in five or six countries -- cities around the country and have organized over 45 relief trips of doctors, nurses, and support personnel. So we're still looking at a very robust U.S. effort here. We've prided ourselves that we were the first in with the most contributed to date in the relief effort. We hope to retain that position as we go into the recovery and reconstruction efforts and, per the presentation, this is our path forward for doing so."
You can read the full transcript of the briefing here.
Learn more about flood relief efforts and how you can help: www.state.gov/pakistanflooding.