World responds to Musharraf’s appeal for help swiftly
* WB announces $20m
* ADB pledges $10m
* China approves $6.2m
* EU releases $4.4m for quake victims
* British, Spanish and French rescue teams arrive
ISLAMABAD: The world community on Sunday swiftly responded to Pakistan’s devastation from a massive earthquake a day earlier, announcing aid packages and sending emergency rescue teams to help evacuate thousands affected by the natural disaster.
The World Bank (WB) on Sunday announced a $20 million credit for Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) committed $10 million for rehabilitation work in the country’s quake-affected areas.
Meanwhile, the UN on Sunday dispatched a seven-member Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team from the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva.
The Japanese government also announced relief items worth $238,000 for the earthquake victims. The relief goods include blankets, tents, a water purification device, generators, plastic tanks and sleeping mats.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) sent 17 surgical teams while the UNDP and OCHA pledged an initial $100,000 each for relief and coordination efforts. Staff Report
Agencies add: United Nations Undersecretary Jan Egeland said that eight international rescue teams had arrived in Pakistan and another “10 or 12” were on the way. The earthquake may have left two to three million homeless and it was crucial that emergency aid included adequate winter shelter for the survivors of the temblor, he said.
As more United Nations teams traveled to South Asia, United Nations agencies, the Red Cross and other aid organisations planned to meet in Geneva on Monday to plan international relief efforts.
President Pervez Musharraf said on Sunday that Pakistan needed medicine, tents, cargo helicopters and financial assistance to help survivors. “We do seek international assistance. We have enough manpower, but we need financial support,” Musharraf said.
China has approved $6.2 million for earthquake relief, while the Chinese state media said that Beijing had sent a 49-man rescue team, along with search dogs and 17 tonnes of equipment.
The EU on Sunday committed $4.4 million in primary emergency relief.
The US Embassy in Islamabad said that it will provide $100,000 in emergency relief funds, and that the US military had offered to help.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw pledged 100,000 pounds and said that the government planned to send 60 medics, emergency workers and foreign office staff.
The Irish government pledged one million euros to the relief effort. The Dutch government offered $1.22 million and a rescue team, Dutch news agency ANP said.
Australia said that it had given $379,000 in immediate aid to the three countries, while the Canadian government promised $300,000.
Some teams had already reached Pakistan on Sunday, including two British emergency rescue teams and a UN team of top disaster coordination officials, who set up three emergency centres to coordinate relief efforts.
A Spanish group, United Fire fighters without Frontiers, said its rescue team had arrived in Islamabad with two large field hospitals and two tonnes of emergency equipment.
The Swedish Rescue Services Agency was sending tents and blankets. Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency said that the Emergency Ministry was sending 30 rescue workers and four dogs as well as a plane with blankets, bedding and tents.
A 25-member team of French engineers arrived on Sunday, while Berlin said that it had made 50,000 euros available to Pakistani authorities through its embassy in Islamabad.
The Malaysian Red Crescent said that it was sending a relief team to Pakistan, which will be joined by the Red Cross and Red Crescent workers from other Southeast Asian nations, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.
Turkey, another quake-prone nation, said that it had sent four military planes with doctors, rescuers and aid to Pakistan.
Earlier, a C-130 cargo plane carrying medicine, food, blanket and tents arrived from the UAE on Sunday. A 28-member rescue team also reached Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah ordered the establishment of an air bridge with Pakistan to ensure a continual supply of relief goods, including ambulances, tents, medicines, clothes and other items. A team of Saudi experts also arrived in Islamabad on Sunday to coordinate with their Pakistani counterparts to ensure dispatch of relief goods to the earthquake victims.
Iran has dispatched foodstuff, blankets, tents and medicines through two aircrafts. Thailand pledged to send $100,000 in assistance to earthquake victims.