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US pumps more aid to flood-hit Pakistan

By Lalit K Jha
August 12, 2010 09:48 IST
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The United States has announced another $16.25 million in aid for flood relief work in Pakistan, thus totalling more than $71 million in less than a week while more is on its way.

On Tuesday, Washington had announced $20 million for the humanitarian effort to help more than 14 million people affected by the devastating flood in Pakistan -- the worst in more than eight decades.

"We have already committed $55 million to this effort. Our Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration intends to provide an additional USD 16.25 million to UNHCR and to the ICRC to assist Pakistan's flood victims," State Department spokesman P J Crowley said.

"This funding should help support Red Cross relief distributions, including food, tents, and shelter, water purification, restoration of community water supplies, preventive health measures, and the like," he said.

"We obviously will look at the specifics of the UN appeal and I would expect that we'll have more -- a higher contribution to make as we understand exactly what is needed."

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Robert Gates announced that USS Peleliu will provide helicopter service to aid Pakistan in its efforts to combat floods that are affecting 14 million people there.

Gates said the Peleliu is off Pakistan's port city of Karachi and will provide airlift assistance.

Peleliu "can provide significantly more" rotary wing support. This includes 12 CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters, four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters and three MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters as part of America's continued humanitarian assistance to Pakistan in support of flood relief from the recent monsoon.

The 19 aircraft will relieve six US Army helicopters already in Pakistan that were loaned from American efforts in Afghanistan in order to provide immediate relief and assistance.

Despite bad weather, these six helicopters in partnership with the Pakistani military have rescued more than 3,089 people and transported more than 322,340 lbs of relief supplies to flood-stricken areas of Pakistan since August 5.

Gates said USS Kearsarge -- another helicopter landing ship -- is headed to Pakistan to relieve the Peleliu.

President Barack Obama has asked the national security team to "lean forward" in providing aid to the disaster-stricken nation, he said.

"The help we provide will be at a pace and in a way determined by the Pakistanis. We will be working very closely with the Pakistani military," he added.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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