Preparing aid to flood-ravaged Pakistan: US military

WASHINGTON (AFP): The United States is conducting a military aid mission to flood-devastated Pakistan, the US armed forces’ Central Command said Friday.

“CENTCOM is sending an assessment team to Islamabad to determine what potential support DoD (the US Department of Defense) can provide […] as part of the United States’ assistance to the flooding crisis in Pakistan,” spokesman Colonel Joe Buccino said in a statement.

The decision followed a telephone conversation Thursday between CENTCOM commander General Erik Kurilla and Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the spokesman said.

Monsoon rains have submerged a third of Pakistan, claiming at least 1,190 lives since June and unleashing powerful floods that have washed away swathes of vital crops and damaged or destroyed more than a million homes.

Authorities have blamed climate change, which is increasing the frequency and strength of extreme weather events.

In support of Pakistan’s flood response efforts and recognising the continuing immense needs, the United States through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to lead the US government’s response efforts in Pakistan, a statement from the USAID said.

The statement mentioned that the elite team, composed of disaster experts from USAID, is assessing the damage, identifying priority needs, and coordinating closely with the Government of Pakistan and with humanitarian partners to ensure effective and efficient delivery of assistance.

The DART is coordinating closely with other US departments and agencies.

This builds on the announcement earlier this week of an additional $30 million in humanitarian assistance from the United States to help the people of Pakistan affected by these devastating floods.

With these funds, USAID partners are prioritising urgently needed support for food, nutrition, multi-purpose cash, safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene, and shelter assistance.

In addition to mobilizing the DART, US government staff based in the region and Washington, DC, are monitoring the situation closely, including any potential impacts the flooding may have in the broader region.