World Bank opens credit line to Pakistan as UN chief calls for aid | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 17.08.2010
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World Bank opens credit line to Pakistan as UN chief calls for aid

The World Bank said it will make nearly $1 billion in credit available to Pakistan to help the country’s economy cope during an unfolding flood crisis that has affected around 20 million people.

Stranded Pakistani flood affected people wade through water for safe areas in Muzaffargarh near Multan, Pakistan.

The floods have been described as Pakistan's worst natural disaster in memory

The World Bank has announced it will provide flood-ravaged Pakistan with a $900-million (702 million euros) credit in an effort to boost the country's economy during this time of crisis.

The funding is to come from the International Development Association, an arm of the World Bank that deals with developing countries.

The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations were asked last week by Pakistan to carry out evaluations on damages, needs and recovery initiatives in the flood-hit regions. The World Bank said the assessment could be completed by mid October if there was no further flooding.

Pakistan's high commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, said Monday the cost of rebuilding Pakistan once the water recedes could exceed $10-15 billion.

The Pakistani government estimates that about 20 million people have been affected by the disaster, with about two million made homeless. The UN, meanwhile, warned Monday that up to 3.5 million children could be at risk of contracting deadly diseases as a result of contaminated water and insects.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during a meeting at prime minister's house in Islamabad.

The UN chief (l) met with Prime Minister Gilani in Islamabad

Meteorologists said they expected heavy rains in Punjab and the northwest and scattered rains in Sindh and Baluchistan over the next two days. Midway through the monsoon season, the longer-term prognosis is little better.

UN fund appeal

The announcement of the World Bank credit line comes a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said international donors needed to do more to help the millions of flood victims in Pakistan, with a UN special aid fund still around 75 percent shy of its target.

Speaking from Islamabad during a visit to the embattled country, Ban said that the international response to the disaster had been sluggish.

"I am here to urge the world community to speed up assistance to the Pakistani people," Ban said after meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

"We are trying to mobilize all the necessary assistance, and remember that the whole world is behind the people of Pakistan at this time of trial."

A girl balances a bundle on her head as she walks by collapsed buildings in earthquake torn Port-au-Prince.

Germans donated far more to Haitian eartquake victims

The UN has appealed for roughly 360 million euros to assist millions of people displaced by floods that have killed at least 1,600 so far. The floods have affected an area about the size of Italy.

The UN says that some six million people still need food, shelter, water and medicine, and warns that the death toll could rise dramatically if more help is not provided quickly.

Germans largely unresponsive

The government in Berlin says it has answered the UN's call, having donated 15 million euros to the Pakistani government since the flooding began, but civilian donations towards the aid effort have remained very low.

Germans generally exhibit a strong philanthropic streak, with millions donating to this year's earthquake relief fund for Haiti or those hit by the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami in Asia.

"Germans donated roughly 200 million euros for the earthquake victims in Haiti," the head of the German Central Institute for Social Issues, Burkhard Wilke, said in an interview on German public radio on Sunday.

"Roughly speaking, we have identified between one and two million euros in donations to Pakistan."

Flood affected people eat food after the distribution in Muzaffargarh near Multan, Pakistan.

The money is for shelter, medicine, water, and food

Wilke believes a number of factors help explain the German people's comparative unwillingness to lend a hand.

Firstly, in what Wilke described as a "profane, but decisive factor," the crisis has happened to strike in the middle of the German holiday season when many people are away from home, or spending all their money on a sunny beach somewhere.

"People's willingness to donate depends on the kind of news, and also the kind of images, that they see on television," Wilke added, saying that the less dramatic nature of this crisis and its media coverage when compared to a major earthquake or tidal wave has not provoked the same emotions.

Wilke also alluded to the Taliban insurgency and terrorist threats facing the government in Pakistan, saying that such trouble spots "where it can be hard to distinguish between good and evil" often struggle to capture the same level of public sympathy.

Development ministry calls on citizens to help

However, German development minister Dirk Niebel said every effort was being made to ensure that the aid money being sent to Pakistan did not fall into the wrong hands

"We're doing everything necessary to be sure that nothing flows through any corrupt channels," Niebel said in an interview with public broadcaster ARD on Monday. "There is the highest level of security to ensure that the money ends up where it belongs."

Niebel also called on German citizens to step up their donations to flood victims in Pakistan.

"It's not relevant which country people come from if they are hit with a catastrophe," he said. "This is about the lives of these people in an emergency."

Author: Matt Zuvela, Darren Mara, Mark Hallam (AP/dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Kyle James

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