UN Asks for $538 Million to Aid Pakistan’s Humanitarian Crisis

By Sadie Bass

Feb 9, 2010 10:37am

ABC's Nick Schifrin reports from Pakistan: The war that Pakistan has waged inside its own borders since 9/11 has cost the country $35 billion and displaced millions, including 3 million people in just the last year — the largest dislocation anywhere since Rwanda. Today the United Nations said Pakistan’s humanitarian situation remains a crisis because of that war and appealed for $537 million to help feed, clothe and reconstruct the lives of the country’s neediest in the next six months. “Pakistan is a front line state on the War on Terror,” said Hina Rabbani, Pakistan’s minister of state for finance. “Peace and development are interdependent… To win this war, we have to win the hearts and the minds of the people. This is the only way to defeat extremism.” The UN’s role in that effort is mostly providing emergency aid to those made homeless by the military’s two major military campaigns against the Taliban since March. The US has a huge stake in that — both in the sense that it is the largest donor to the UN’s campaign and because instability in Pakistan threatens the Pakistani army’s gains against the Taliban. Today the U.S. ambassador for humanitarian relief, Robin Raphel, lauded the UN’s “extraordinary” efforts and promised the United States would “respond generously” to the UN’s appeal. She told me that money would be separate from any money coming to Pakistan from the White House or from the Kerry-Lugar bill. But the UN’s ability to develop Pakistan – especially its poorest and most violent province, the Northwest Frontier – has been weakened in the last year. It has temporarily pulled out most of its foreigners who work on development, instead leaving many of the emergency workers in place with severe security restrictions. Twelve UN workers were killed in Pakistan last year. The head of the UN’s humanitarian office in Pakistan also admitted that Haiti would make his work more difficult, telling me “it will take away financial resources” from Pakistan.

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