U.S. Continues to Rush Relief to Pakistan
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2010 As monsoon rains continue to fall on Pakistan, the United States is sending aid as fast as the flood-stricken country can absorb it, a Defense Department official said here today.
United Nations officials estimate that some 20 million Pakistanis are affected, with about 1,500 dead, as the Indus River and its tributaries continue to rise.
The United States has provided more than $90 million in support since the flooding began July 29, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. All relief aid is at the request of and through the Pakistani government, he added, as U.S. servicemembers in Pakistan work to deliver aid under direction of Pakistani officials at the Natural Disaster Management Authority based in Rawalpindi.
The United States has funneled money to help via direct contributions to the Pakistani National Disaster Management Authority, the U.N. relief plan and many local and provincial relief organizations. In addition, about 150 sailors, Marines and airmen are flying 15 helicopters and three C-130s in the country to deliver vital supplies.
U.S. aircraft have rescued more than 5,500 people and delivered more than 500,000 pounds of relief supplies. In the last 24 hours, 441,000 packaged meals that conform with Islamic law have been delivered to civilians, Whitman said this morning. “That in itself is [worth] about $3.7 million,” he added.
Many areas in the northwestern part of the nation have been cut off. The United States is providing 12 temporary bridges to help Pakistan connect with these isolated areas.
The United States has also delivered 1,870 rolls of plastic sheeting – enough to construct shelter for about 110,000 people, Whitman said. American servicemembers have delivered 14,000 blankets, 18 rescue boats, six water filtration units and 10 water storage bladders. They also delivered 2,500-kilowatt generators.
Whitman said many U.S. servicemembers are contributing to the relief effort outside of Pakistan. The crew of the USS Peleliu – off the coast of Pakistan – is providing helicopter maintenance support. Ground crews in Afghanistan are working to trans-ship the meals and other supplies. U.S. Transportation Command planners at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., are working with officials at U.S. Central Command, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to prioritize the supply missions.
“The United States has a very robust relief mission to Pakistan,” Whitman said.