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Urgent International Response Needed for Food Crisis in Pakistan

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says six million people are in need of life-saving food aid in flood-ravaged Pakistan. WFP adds this number “is likely to increase as further damage unfolds and new assessment data comes in.”

What has to increase now is international cooperation in helping Pakistan.

WFP relies on voluntary donations to fund its global hunger fighting efforts. But right now, WFP says it “continues to face a shortfall of almost US $103 million” for the Pakistan emergency. WFP also warns, “While many donors have announced pledges, WFP urges them to confirm their donations in order to avoid breaks in the food pipeline in September.”

Floods have displaced millions of Pakistanis, destroying homes, crops, and anything else in the water’s path. Some flood victims are hard to reach because the flooding has not stopped in many areas. Helicopters are being used to shuttle food and other supplies.

 

 

The first of three heavy-lift MI8-171 helicopters arrived in Pakistan on Sunday to join the airborne relief effort to flood-hit communities. (WFP/Frances Kennedy)

WFP Pakistan Country Director Wolfgang Herbinger pleads, “We need more of these lifesavers. Helicopters are the only way to deliver supplies into many areas which is why we’re already using every aircraft currently available to us.” An estimated 800,000 people are cut off from road access.

To date, WFP has reached about 1.75 million people with a one-month emergency ration. Small children are receiving supplementary plumpy and high energy biscuits to hold off dangerous malnutrition. A pipeline break in this regard, if funding is not stepped up, could have extremely tragic consequences for the most vulnerable of the population.

Beyond the emergency effort, there is damage of enormous scale to tackle. U.S. State Department representative Dan Feldman recently visited the Punjab region of Pakistan which produces much of the country’s food. Feldman said Monday, “the extent of the damage just visually was every bit as epic and devastating as you would imagine…agricultural fields under water, roads and bridges under water, roads continuously disrupted by water, so impossible to move people or food or supplies out.” Feldman adds that reconstruction efforts “will take many, many months if not years. And the sheer impact still needs to be assessed but will certainly be staggering.”

Interestingly, it was 50 years ago almost to the day that President Dwight Eisenhower was preparing an international food for peace proposal. This would become reality in the Kennedy Administration with the creation of the UN World Food Programme. The very basis on which it was founded, international cooperation to fight hunger and build peace, needs to escalate—and fast— to help the people of Pakistan.

You can donate at the World Food Programme at https://www.wfp.org/pakistan

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.