The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is still short of funding for its relief operation in flood-ravaged Pakistan. The latest situation report shows about a $58 million shortfall.
The real danger is a pipeline break in supplies that could prove deadly, particularly for small children. Dangerous malnutrition can take hold very quickly on the most vulnerable of Pakistani society.
A village in Punjab all but submerged by flood waters at the end of August, a full month after the monsoon rains unleashed one of the worst natural disasters in Pakistan’s history.(WFP/Rein Skullerud)
This week Jason Corum of WFP USA published an article, “What an Inadequate Response to the Pakistan Floods Could Mean.” He says the disaster is so immense, and the international response has not matched up. He cites Elizabeth Ferris of the Brookings Institution who says, “If there’s a perception that this low international response is an anti-Muslim sentiment it could actually make relations between the West and Pakistan much worse.”
Our response today to the Pakistan floods will shape our relations with that country in the future. Last year, my op-ed in the Durham Herald-Sun focused on “Lessons for Other War in Pakistan.” This is the war against hunger and want that emerged from the fighting between the government and the Taliban. Pile the flood on top of this disaster, and the needs of displaced and hungry Pakistanis are even greater. So far, the international community has not responded enough.
The slow international response is also indicative of the entire war on global hunger. The last few years have seen the ranks of the hungry rise globally. The response has not measured up to the size of the crisis. In the United States, for instance, the Senate and the House have each stalled on bills that would build a more effective, coordinated U.S. response to global hunger. The U.S. does not have a full-time food ambassador providing leadership during this crisis. What are we waiting for?
When measuring your Representative and your Senator in Congress on their foreign policy prowess, see if they support the Roadmap To End Global Hunger (H.R. 2817) and the Global Food Security Act (S.384). If not, give them a call or write a letter.
The Pakistan crisis has clearly defined what needs to be at the top of the list of American foreign policy priorities: fighting hunger and want. As George C. Marshall said after World War II, “Hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.”
It’s time for action.
Pakistan Flood Relief PSA: Donate to the World Food Program (narrated by Nava Ghalili)