Pakistan flood victims' resentment hurting aid effort: ICRC

2nd September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Growing resentment among Pakistan flood victims on the pace of aid delivery is hampering the relief effort, the international Red Cross warned Thursday, saying it had to halt two distributions recently due to unrest.

"What we are detecting is a very worrying trend of areas where ... people are so in need, so resentful of not getting enough aid, that they turn understandably aggressive and this is bad because it doesn't help in our efforts to reach more of them," said Jacques de Maio, the head of operations for South Asia for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

He pointed out that in two instances in the past eight days, officials had to stop distribution of relief items "because of unrest."

"We are worried because if this trend extends, propagates," it could hinder the aid effort, he noted.

De Maio noted that the trend is particularly worrying because, unlike other disasters such as an earthquake, the floods are generating more and more victims as the high waters sweep into new regions.

"The thing is that due to the sheer magnitude of this and the fact that we are not in for a sprint, we're here for a marathon, we need to make sure that (such unrest) does not become the rule rather than the exception," he said.

De Maio also pointed out that certain elements were also not helping by agitating the crowd.

"If you organise a distribution for 30,000 and in the last 48 hours you have an additional 150,000, then you have a problem, particularly if you have people in the crowd, behind the crowd saying that 'anyway they're useless, anyway they are politicised'," he said.

"By doing so, the choice is the usual dilemma, are we ready to have our friends, our staff being killed and looted there? Because instead of helping 150,000 people we can only help 30,000?"

"Our angle is that we want first to help this 30,000 and see how we can extend what we do," said de Maio.

The unprecedented floods have engulfed an area the size of England, affecting more than 18 million people, including eight million who are dependent on aid handouts to survive.

The scale of the disaster is so large that a month after the deluge, many are complaining of going without food or water for days.

The ICRC, which has already reached hundreds of thousands of flood victims, expects to reach around 1.4 million people within the next six weeks.

© 2010 AFP

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