WASHINGTON – The floods in Pakistan are the country’s largest natural disasters,but a nonprofit group says the floods should not distract the world from ongoing conflict affecting civilians.
About 2,300 civilians died from terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2009,according a new report issued Thursday by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict.
Christopher Rogers,the group’s Pakistan field fellow,said the recent floods are taking attention away from the civilians harmed in conflict in northwest Pakistan. Two million people are displaced because of conflict and violence.
Since August 2,000 people have died because of the floods,and 1.9 million homes have been destroyed,according to the United Nations website.
CIVIC released the report to raise awareness about the growing number of people harmed by conflict in Pakistan. The group thinks compensation should be given to those affected.
Compensation programs have not reached everyone because of the floods. “There are serious gaps and inefficiencies,” he said.
CIVIC’s report said the United States should help with compensation programs because the U.S. is involved in the conflict.
The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Pakistan Scholar,Huma Yusuf,said during a discussion about the report Thursday that she doesn’t expect much money to flow into compensation programs now because of the floods,in addition to political problems facing the country.
“In the absence of political reform,” she said,“I don’t think the Pakistan government will take civilian harm seriously.”
The floods could end up helping civilians in conflict areas,Rogers said,because many of the people affected by violence were also affected by the floods.
But the conflict is affecting where flood aid can be distributed.
During a panel discussion Friday at the United States Institute of Peace,Mark Ward,acting director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at the Agency for International Development,said it has been difficult to decide if the agency should disclose where the U.S. has helped.
For safety reasons,Ward said some nonprofit groups in Pakistan do not admit it if they receive U.S. funding.
Despite some problems,Yusuf said the system for flood aid might improve the country’s compensation programs in the long-run if the government learns from the emergency programs and keeps them going.
Rogers said he worries that civilians harmed by violence might be forgotten in because of the floods.
“While the issue of the floods is massive,” he said. “The issue of the victims is still there and it’s ongoing.”