US has “adequate tracking mechanisms” in place to ensure flood aid reaches those affected: Spokesperson
Washington/Islamabad: The US has put “adequate tracking mechanisms” in place to ensure that its flood aid reaches those affected, Department of State spokesperson Ned Price has said, amid allegations of corruption and looting of relief aid in Pakistan.
More than 1,700 people have been killed, 33 million displaced and a third of the country was submerged under water in the worst floods to hit Pakistan, brought about by unprecedented rains since mid-June.
According to the US State Department, Washington has provided nearly USD 56.5 million in flood relief and humanitarian assistance to Pakistan this year as well as an additional USD 10 million in food security assistance.
In September, Pakistan and the United Nations jointly launched a flash appeal in which pledges amounting to only USD 150 million were made, of which only USD 38.5 million was converted into assistance, according to a UN report.
When Price was asked about the alleged corruption and looting of flood assistance in Pakistan during a press briefing on Tuesday, he said: “This is something we take very seriously, not only in Pakistan but anywhere around the world where American taxpayer dollars are implicated.”
Price cited examples of the checks and balances the US government has in place to ensure humanitarian aid is used for intended purposes such as regular site visits by USAID staff as well as partners that work in collaboration with local organisations.
“We have what’s called a DART – a Disaster Assistance Response Team – and their members travel to more than 10 flood-affected districts in Balochistan, in Sindh province,” Price said, adding that “to assess not only the humanitarian conditions but also the response activities and to make sure that those response activities were meeting the humanitarian need”.
“We also are required to provide regular programme updates on the progress of activities and any security concerns, and we require them – our partners – to immediately report any potential diversions, seizures, or losses immediately,” he added. Pakistan’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority has said that more than 2 million houses have been destroyed due to the floods.
In September, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that a surge in diseases like malaria can cause a “second disaster.”
Last week, the WHO warned of 2.7 million malaria cases in 32 districts in flood-hit Pakistan by January 2023.