Dec 10th, 2010 5:00 PM UTC
By Abdul Khaliq Shah
I work for the aid agency Oxfam in Pakistan, helping with the response to the recent catastrophic floods in my country this year. I want to say thank you for signing ONE’s petition calling for Pakistan’s debts to be frozen and tell you why this was important.
The floods were unprecedented, having an even worse impact than the Tsunami: covering one fifth of the entire country, and affecting over 20 million people, the majority of whom are poor rural communities, already living below the poverty line. Through my work I have witnessed first-hand the devastating impact the catastrophe has had on so many. Initially this involved helping communities to access clean water, food, medicines and shelter, but we will be working hard for months and probably years to come to help flood-hit people fully recover.
While Pakistan is in desperate need of resources, it is being pushed by lenders to continue paying its foreign debt, ignoring the urgent needs of millions of people in distress. Pakistani civil society has been constantly urging lender governments and international institutions to provide much needed debt relief to Pakistan, so that it is able to help the millions of people desperately in need.
This is where your voice has helped achieve an important step. We presented the joint petition signed by over 200,000 people at a vital meeting of the countries who are responding to the crisis. It sent a clear message that they should ensure Pakistan has as much of its own resources as possible to spend on the long term rebuilding work to help those affected.
This call for action has helped to get the issue firmly on the international agenda – a vital start. What’s needed next is for the Pakistan Government to make it clear that resources freed up through debt relief will directly benefit those affected by the disaster, and donor countries to insist this happens as part of any support they give. Oxfam and local organisations will be campaigning strongly on this in Pakistan and joining with organisations like ONE to keep pressuring governments around the world.
Thank you again for your support.
Abdul Khaliq Shah
Policy & Advocacy Officer
Nov 19th, 2010 11:30 AM UTC
By Stuart McWilliam
This week ONE was part of a campaign coalition that delivered a petition signed by over 200,000 people (including more than 60,000 ONE members) calling for Pakistan’s debt to be frozen. This sent a strong message from members of ONE and our campaign partners Oxfam, Avaaz and Jubilee Debt Coalition, that rich countries should ensure Pakistan has as much of its own resources possible to spend on reconstruction after the devastating floods earlier this year.
The 202,381 person strong petition was delivered at the Pakistan Development Forum in Islamabad, a meeting of countries who provide aid to Pakistan, where the issue of debt and long term poverty reduction was being discussed. Stephen Engelken, a senior US Diplomat in Pakistan, received the petition and passed our message on to representatives from other countries and the IMF (the international institution which oversees countries’ debt).
The current position of these countries is that they aren’t prepared to freeze or help with the debt until Pakistan’s Government makes it clear it will spend the money to help those affected by the floods. However they are leaving the door open for a positive decision in the near future.
Two things need to happen next: the Pakistan Government should establish a clear and publicly transparent fund, demonstrating how debt money will be spent on reconstruction and helping those that have been affected, and showing how it will account for this. And rich countries need to make clear that resources freed up by help with Pakistan’s debt support is used to assist those affected by the floods, in an open, transparent way with clear monitoring. Campaigners in Pakistan and around the world will continue to put pressure on both sets of Governments to do this.
Nov 9th, 2010 5:21 PM UTC
By Weldon Kennedy
Pakistan is still reeling from the massive floods earlier this year, but there is a very simple thing we can all do to help: push for a freeze on Pakistan’s debt payments.
For the last couple of months, we’ve been advocating for a freeze that would enable Pakistan to spend more of its resources over next two years on rebuilding. If you’re not one of the 55,000 + people who have signed the petition, please do so because at the end of this week, we’re joining Avaaz, Jubilee Debt Coalition, and Oxfam to deliver the petition at an important meeting of world leaders in Pakistan who will be discussing how to help the country rebuild.
This delivery will come on the heels of the Senate of Pakistan issuing a call last week for a reprieve from debt payments – so it couldn’t come at a better time. It also comes at a time where the slow pace of recovery is starting to sting as there have been outbreaks of dengue fever and cholera among flood victims.
For a bit of a reminder why Pakistan needs this reprieve, I highly recommend taking a look at two sets of photos put together by the Big Picture blog (here and here) capturing a sense of the scale of devastation.
While you’re having a look at those pictures, also keep this map from the BBC in mind to understand just how much of the country was impacted by these floods. To me it makes it clear as can be that we must do what we can to help in the face of such a challenge.
Oct 6th, 2010 1:40 PM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
When the floods hit Pakistan in July, the statistics were staggering: 20 million people displaced. 20% of the country under water. 2 million acres of crops destroyed.
If you haven’t already please sign our petition to have Pakistan’s debt repayments frozen. The countdown is on to the IMF’s meeting on October 14 and we need every single signature between now and then!
Also check out a slideshow from Islamic Relief of a recent visit by UK MPs Sadiq Khan and Shabana Mahmood, who went to see the relief effort first hand and have been campaigning for those affected by the floods and for a debt freeze:
Sep 25th, 2010 11:29 AM UTC
By Todd Summers
We’ve all seen the devastation in Pakistan caused by historic flooding, but what might have been less obvious was the impact on their health system. Imagine the challenge of getting daily medicines to people with tuberculosis or keeping up efforts to control malaria, which was already difficult before the floods.
So we were thrilled to learn from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria that they’ve jumped into action to help Pakistan recover. They’ve worked closely with the Pakistan government, a wide variety of UN partners and some of the leading non-governmental groups, focused especially on three tasks:
The Global Fund’s executive director, Michel Kazatchkine, told us, “Our collective response in Pakistan is one more example of how the Global Fund can act quickly to respond to the needs of the country and communities. It shows the flexibility of the Global Fund as an instrument, and the importance of working as a partnership.” Bravo.
Sep 8th, 2010 5:28 PM UTC
By Michael Healy
Since the reports first reached our TV screens of the floods in Pakistan the public response to the disaster has been phenomenal, with the UK public alone raising over £47 million for the aid appeal.
The situation in Pakistan is dire: More than 20 million people have been displaced by the flooding, a fifth of the country is now under water, and more than 2 million acres of crops have been destroyed. Thousands of people have lost their lives and millions more have lost their homes, whilst severe threats of water-borne diseases and malnutrition are putting survivors of the initial floods at further risk. And all this in a country where 60% of the population were already living below the poverty line.
In order to recover from this destruction Pakistan will need all the help it can get.
On Saturday ONE launched a petition calling on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to freeze Pakistan’s debt and we have already received over 20,000 signatures! This is fantastic and we are now over halfway to our new target of 40,000.
Since its launch the petition has received the backing of major aid organisations – Islamic Relief and Muslim Aid – and Members of Parliament from the major political parties here in the UK, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Liberal Democrat Tim Farron and the Conservative’s Andrew Stephenson.
A spokesperson for Muslim Aid said:
“It is a collective responsibility for all Governments and financial institutions around the world to ease the pressure on Pakistan during this crisis. It will help Pakistan to reduce the debt burden whilst it continues to endure unspeakable suffering. 20 million people are without food, water, shelter and a basic education; the focus must remain on rehabilitation in Pakistan for not just the short but long term future.”
Islamic Relief UK Director Jehangir Malik said:
“Islamic Relief have been delivering emergency assistance to people affected on the ground at Pakistan, but this recovery effort will last years and needs maximum available resources. ONE’s campaign to ease Pakistan’s debt burden is a vital part of this. We are urging our supporters to sign this petition and send a strong message to the IMF”.
Thank you to all ONE members who have signed the petition so far. If you haven’t yet signed please do so. And if you have, please pass it onto your friends and family. Every extra name really does make a difference.
Sep 6th, 2010 12:06 PM UTC
By Kalim Patwa
I’m sure like me you’ve been saddened to see the unprecedented floods in Pakistan, and I’m sure you are keen to find a way to help.
The sheer scale of the disaster is staggering, with reports suggesting that 20 million people have been affected. This is doubly devastating in a country where 60% of the population was already living below the poverty line.
Pakistan will need all its available resources to help it recover from this crippling crisis and to fight long-term poverty. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) – the institution that oversees debt repayments – can play a key role in this. It is currently considering ways in which Pakistan’s debt can be eased, and how to make sure the money is effectively used to help people affected.
Please ask the IMF to freeze Pakistan’s debt repayments for the next 2 years. Sign our petition to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the IMF.
Please help freeze Pakistan’s debt to ensure the country’s poorest people are able to recover from the devastating floods.
Early this year ONE members helped to get Haiti’s debt cancelled after the earthquake. We can now make a difference for the people of Pakistan giving them the greatest possible help to recover from this devastating disaster.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.