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Officials Concerned About Potential Disease Outbreaks Among Displaced Pakistanis; Obama Requests More U.S. Aid Money

U.N. officials on Thursday expressed growing concern about potential disease outbreaks among the two million displaced Pakistanis and warned that aid money is running out, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/4). According to the U.N., more than two million Pakistanis have been driven from their homes in the past month because of a government-led offensive against the Taliban, “in addition to the 400,000 already displaced in fighting last year,” Environment News Service reports (ENS, 6/4).

Daniel Baker of the U.N. Population Fund said the health sector has received 11 percent of requested funding (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/4). The overall effort – a $543 million Humanitarian Action Plan launched in late May – is 22 percent funded and essential drug stocks are projected to run out by the end of this month, ENS reports (ENS, 6/4).

Baker said that as the monsoon season quickly approaches, “concerns are growing about an increase in avoidable sickness and death due to disease outbreaks, such as acute respiratory infection, acute diarrhoea, malaria and meningitis.” In addition, with “more and more people” arriving in camps, “hosts are running out of money,” which could lead to “very severe problems” if funds are not raised, Manuel Bessler, head of the U.N. humanitarian agency in Pakistan, said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/4).

At a recent meeting with U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke in Pakistan, approximately three dozen international and NGO aid organizations avoided “direct criticism of the government’s effort,” but said that towns and cities “remain without electricity and water” and have “severe shortages of food and medicine,” the Washington Post reports (De Young, Washington Post, 6/4). Fewer than 10 percent of displaced people are living in the “overcrowded camps,” according to ENS (ENS, 6/4).

Obama Calls For Additional Aid, WFP Gives Food

President Barack Obama asked Congress for “an additional $200 million in emergency aid” for the displaced Pakistanis, Holbrooke said on Wednesday, the Washington Post reports. “The new funding, to be added to Obama’s pending supplemental spending request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, would nearly triple the amount of U.S. emergency aid for Pakistan. The administration authorized $110 million three weeks ago and is spending an additional $20 million for transportation and other purposes,” according to the Washington Post (Washington Post, 6/4).

On Thursday, the World Food Programme (WFP) sent almost “100 metric tons of urgently-needed food to northwest Pakistan” (ENS, 6/4).