U.S. Rushes Aid to Pakistan Flood Victims
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2010 The United States is rushing aircraft, food and shelter to help those impacted by flooding in Pakistan, State Department and Defense Department officials said today.Video
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jose Cornejo hands boxes of halal meals to Pakistanis after arriving at Peshawar, Pakistan, Aug. 1, 2010. The U.S. Air Force flew thousands of meals to Pakistan as part of a humanitarian relief mission to help flood victims. Cornejo is a loadmaster is assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Pakistani officials said the floods – caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains – have killed between 1,500 and 2,000 people in the northwestern part of the nation. The World Food Program has issued a $30 million request to assist the families.
United Nations officials estimate that more than 500,000 people have been displaced by the flood and that about 3 million overall will be affected in Pakistan. The floods began July 29, and the rain continues in the region.
The State Department is coordinating the U.S. response effort, and the United States has pledged an immediate $10 million to aid those affected, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday. “We will work closely with the government of Pakistan to ensure aid reaches those people who need it most,” Clinton said. “I have seen first-hand the strength and resilience of the Pakistani people, and I know they will come through this tragedy with determination and compassion.”
The monsoon rain also is falling on Afghanistan, but it is nowhere near the deluge that has befallen Pakistan, officials said. Still, officials said, the conditions are affecting operations in Regional Command East.
U.S. helicopters flown by Pakistani crews have rescued about 750 people stranded by the high water. Four Army CH-47 Chinooks and two Army UH-60 Black Hawks with American crews based in Afghanistan will fly to Pakistan to help the efforts there as soon as the weather makes the flight possible, said Marine Corps Col. David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.
The United States has delivered almost 200,000 packaged meals that conform to Islamic law to Pakistan in 13 separate flights. Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, brought 12,200 meals when he arrived in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad for meetings yesterday.
“The United States will continue to support the people of Pakistan, both during Pakistan’s flood relief operations and as a long-term partner and ally,” McNabb said.
The Defense Department is providing water purification units, as Pakistani relief officials are worried about the possibility of waterborne disease once the flood recedes. The units, which provide pumping, purification, storage and distribution capabilities, can provide water for about 100,000 people, officials said.
Pakistani relief officials said many bridges in the Swat Valley and Peshawar regions have been washed away by the flood, isolating whole communities from relief. Pakistan has asked for, and the Defense Department is delivering, 12 prefabricated steel bridges as temporary replacements.
“The Pakistani people are friends and partners, and the United States is standing with them as the tragic human toll mounts from flooding in Northwest Pakistan,” Clinton said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones or have been displaced from their homes, and we are taking action to help.”