Canada adds $7.5M to Pakistan flood relief

The federal government is committing an additional $7.5 million in funding for flood relief in Pakistan.
A flood victim wades through floodwaters while he leaves his village of Bello Patan for higher ground in Dadu, some 320 kilometres north of Karachi, Pakistan, on Monday. ((Akhtar Soomro/Reuters))

Canada will spend an additional $7.5 million on flood relief in Pakistan, the federal government announced Tuesday.

The money will go towards logistics and air transport capacity for the humanitarian response, via the UN World Food Program. It will also be spent on providing emergency relief supplies such as tents, shelter kits, kitchen sets and tarps to help up to 7,000 families. The funds will be managed by the Canadian Red Cross.

"The need for immediate and ongoing humanitarian aid is still very great and organizations on the ground are working tirelessly to provide the essentials to save lives and prevent disease," Bev Oda, the international co-operation minister, said in a statement.

Floods that began in late July have created what the United Nations calls "one of the largest humanitarian crises the UN and its humanitarian partners have ever responded to."

More than 200,000 houses have been demolished and more than 4.3 million people affected, the UN says.

Oda tours camps

On Tuesday, Oda flew over a small part of the flood zone in a UN helicopter, part of a whistle-stop tour of two camps for displaced people.

"This looked like an ocean," she observed as she flew over ruined farm fields, villages and towns. "It looked like a great lake that you can't see the other side of."

Pakistani children affected by floods reach for gifts distributed by volunteers at a camp on the outskirts of Karachi on Saturday. ((Fareed Khan/Associated Press))
At one camp, men and women clutching ration cards lined up for food. At another, children recited their daily lessons beneath a canvas tarp — their open-air classroom.

"People need more," said Abid Alisha, the administrator of the Kashmore district who served as Oda's tour guide.

"They need food, they need shelter, they need all sorts of help on the medical side, on the education side," he said. "This has to be reconstructed altogether. Nothing is left."

John Powell, the deputy executive director of the World Food Program, said nothing speaks to the crisis in Pakistan "like first-hand seeing."

"It's very, very important to be able to show our closest partners such as Canada what the needs are and how they can be met, and what a difference their contribution can make in the lives of people who are in desperate need," said Powell, who helped organize Oda's tour.

Canada has already pledged $33 million to helping flood victims and is now the fourth largest donor to flood relief in Pakistan, according to the Canadian International Development Agency.

The government pledged an initial $2 million on Aug. 3 and announced additional funding of $31 million on Aug. 14.

On Sunday, it announced it was extending the Pakistan Flood Relief Fund until Oct. 3, matching dollar for dollar donations made by individual Canadians to registered charities.

With files from the CBC's Tom Parry