ABU DHABI // The Pakistani Ambassador has made an appeal for donations to help ease the suffering of millions of people affected by flooding in southern Pakistan.
Jamil Ahmed Khan announced that the embassy in Abu Dhabi is starting a campaign to help the relief effort, which has already cost his government 2 billion Pakistani rupees (Dh83.6 million).
The UN has put the cost of the immediate emergency response at US$357m (Dh1.31bn), Mr Khan said.
The flooding in Sindh province has affected 6 million people, with at least 361 killed and 600,000 living in refugee camps, Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority said yesterday.
"It is a natural disaster and we have no control over it," said Mr Khan. "We have faith, we know it is a test on us."
Although the destruction caused by this year's flooding is smaller than last year's, when 20 million were displaced and the country suffered $9.7bn in damage to homes and infrastructure, this year's damage is still devastating.
The flooding has destroyed more than 10,000 square kilometres of crop land and a total of more than 16,000 sq km of land is submerged, Mr Khan said. About 100,000 cattle have died, jeopardising the livelihood of farmers.
Mr Khan urged his countrymen in the UAE to help by donating money to the disaster management authority.
Donations can be made through bank accounts set up by the consulate in Dubai at United Bank and Habib Bank, or sent directly to the authority's bank account in Pakistan.
The embassy and Pakistan International Airlines are also accepting donations of items necessary for the immediate relief effort, such as tents, sheets, medicines, and mosquito nets and repellent.
Food items such as cooking oil, flour, rice, sugar, high-energy biscuits, lentils, milk powder, tea and bottled water are also needed. The embassy has calculated supplies to cover the needs of a family of five for two weeks cost about Dh125.
"The Pakistani nation has the strength and commitment to come back to its feet," Mr Khan said.
"We are a resilient nation. These are small hindrances but let us unite as one country and come forward."
Pakistani expatriates in the Gulf are a significant source of cash for the developing country.
So far this year, remittances from the UAE have reached $2.2bn, Mr Khan said.
The international community also "has to join hands to support Pakistan", he said.
Mr Khan has met high-ranking UAE officials and praised the UAE Government for its efforts.
Sheikh Khalifa, the President, has directed seven charities to help the Pakistani relief effort, Mr Khan said. The UAE Red Crescent has already opened more than eight locations to collect donations.
"I am very thankful to the President," said Mr Khan.
"The President has come forward with a very good gesture to demonstrate our brotherly relations. It is a clear example the people of the UAE have a soft spot for the people of Pakistan."
Mr Khan's appeal was welcomed by prominent members of the Pakistani community, with many publicly announcing their pledges to the relief effort.
"Something needs to be done," said the Dubai philanthropist Mobisher Rabbani, the founder of the Rabbani Foundation.
"We have got a large community here and they have always been very productive in helping out with what is needed.
"The community has to come forward, we have to open our hearts and give donations."
* Those wishing to make donations to Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority can deposit cash in the Consulate General of Pakistan Flood Relief Fund, account number: 010-3966-5 at United Bank Limited, Bur Dubai. Donations of goods can be given to the Pakistani Embassy in Abu Dhabi or directly to Pakistan International Airlines, which is shipping them free of cost. People can contact Khurram Shehzad on 02 633 6670.