More funds will follow State's €2m donation


SOME €2 MILLION in funding provided by the Irish Government towards the humanitarian effort in Pakistan is just an initial response to the crisis, Minister for Overseas Development Peter Power said.

Mr Power said there was a fear there could be a “second wave” to the disaster, where victims, especially young children, might be struck by diarrhoea and disease.

Mr Power, who was in New York to attend the emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly, announced an additional €1.19 million in funding, on top of €750,000 already provided to aid agencies Concern and Trócaire. Some €60,000 in humanitarian supplies, including tents, has also been sent to the flood-stricken country.

The Minister said the crisis was a “disaster of enormous proportions” and that a moment of “global solidarity” was required.

Ahead of yesterday’s assembly meeting, Mr Power was briefed on the scale of the disaster by John Holmes, head of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Mr Holmes led the UN response to the earthquake in Haiti.

“His message was that the sheer scale and magnitude is very hard to convey to the global community. There are seven million people with no homes, no water, no food, and increasingly – and more worryingly – no medicines. That’s at a very minimum the number in immediate need of emergency assistance. There are 15 million people who are in need of other assistance,” Mr Power told The Irish Times.

“Combined with that, because of the fact that there’s just so much water, just getting access to the people who need food and clean water is becoming a real problem.

“Definitely the sense I got from John Holmes is there is a very distinct possibility now that there could easily be a second wave to this disaster in terms of young children and disease.”

Asked whether an additional €1.19 million would be sufficient to allow the aid agencies deal with the scale of the crisis, Mr Power said the funds provided so far were “just the initial humanitarian response”.

“But it is without doubt clear that further monies will be needed in due course as we move from beyond the humanitarian to recovery and reconstruction stages, and certainly, there will be further funding announcements at that stage.”

Mr Power said Ireland had provided €20 million in funding to the UN’s central emergency response fund last year to deal with such disasters. Aid agencies would continue their work even after the TV cameras left Pakistan. Then the real work of recovery and reconstruction would start, he added.