Monday, 23 August 2010

Generous British public "shame" governments over Pakistan aid

British public donate 30 million UK pounds to Pakistan's flood relief effort, "shaming" politicians around the world to give more, says Disasters Emergency Committee in UK.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (AUGUST 23, 2010) REUTERS - The British public have given around 30 million pounds of their own money to add to the government's 60 million in aid for Pakistan, "shaming" other governments into pledging funds to help flood victims, said the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) on Monday (August 23).
At a Royal Mail postal sorting office in central London, cheques sent in from across the UK for the DEC appeal were mounting up daily.

"For the first time in the DEC's history we've taken more money in the second week than in the first week," said Brendan Gormley, chief executive of DEC at a news conference in London.

"What we've had in the last couple of weeks, which has been hugely moving, is that as the story has unfolded the UK public has continued to dig deeper and deeper," he said.

In comparison, donations to the Haiti quake aid effort dropped 20 percent in the second week and donations to the Indonesia and Philippines typhoon effort dropped by half in the third week.

DEC predicts donations by the British public, which has a Pakistani population of around 1 million, will continue to rise.

He said the generosity of ordinary Britons should shame governments around the world which have been slow to respond to the massive disaster in Pakistan.

"It is the UK public who are leading the way and I don't think it's too strong a word, shaming politicians across the world to really do what they should do," he said.

The United Nations estimates that 20 million have been affected by the floods, with 10 million in urgent need of help.

Speaking at the London news conference, Humanitarian Director for Oxfam, Jane Cocking said it was crucial for people to realise the scale of the disaster.

"What we have is a single long event, which has the scale of the tsunami, the destruction of Haiti and the complexity of the Middle East. In 20 years in responding to humanitarian crises I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this," she said.

Aid agencies estimate that around 25 percent of flood victims have not received any help at all.

Head of Christian Aid's humanitarian division, Nick Guttmann said they desperately need more money.

"We are very pleased that donations in the past week, unusually for the DEC appeal, picked up in the second week. Within Christian Aid as well our donations have picked up, but we desperately need more. The scale is so huge that every penny that has been raised will be able to be used now," he said.

The DEC is an umbrella organisation for 13 different UK charities who are providing food shelter and medical care to those who have lost everything in the floods.