Clegg: Pakistan aid effort paltry

2010-08-16 22:47

London - Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Monday slammed the "pitiful" international response to the Pakistan floods, saying some countries were yet to grasp the scale of the disaster.

Clegg, who has taken day-to-day charge of the government while Prime Minister David Cameron is on holiday, said while Britain had taken a leading role in the relief effort, other countries needed to do more.

His call came as the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) umbrella group of 13 British aid agencies said their appeal so far had raised £15m.

"About close to one quarter of the aid already devoted to Pakistan has come from this country," Clegg said.

Huge scale disaster

"The response from the international community as a whole, I have to say, has been lamentable. It's been absolutely pitiful.

"One of the reasons may be because this is a disaster on a scale that people are struggling to understand.

"We have already taken a lead in the international effort but we need other people to help."

The British government has also earmarked £31.3m in aid, nearly £17m of which has now been allocated.

20 million people affected

DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley said the need in Pakistan was growing following the worst floods there for 80 years.

The three-week disaster has affected 20 million people, and has destroyed crops, infrastructure, towns and villages.

"With floodwaters now spreading in the Sindh province, and hundreds more villages being flooded, the situation for millions of people in Pakistan is worsening," Gormley said.

"DEC member agencies have already reached over 600 000 people on the ground but understandably, given the scale of the disaster, access to some areas remains challenging. We need continuing support to help save lives."