Monday, September 12, 2011

In Pakistan UNDP is lacking leadership - the organization has become irrelevant to assist in relief while focusing needed funds in assessment reports

Dispute over UN role in relief work
KARACHI Although the federal government has formally invited the United Nations to help with the relief of flood survivors, there seems to be a difference of opinion between the Sindh provincial government and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) about the actual operations.

A UN official privy to the matter revealed that the NDMA does not want the UN to focus on immediate relief, but to help with the latter phase of early recovery. This leaves the organisation with nothing to do in the meantime but gather data for assessment.

According to him, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah asked the UN to begin relief work in the province within 24 hours on Saturday. “But, afterwards the chairman of the NDMA stopped us and asked us to focus on the assessment of the loss of property, crops and other things for the recovery phase,” he added.

This has created considerable confusion over whose orders need to be followed. There are questions as to why the UN is being stopped from providing aid.

Although the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has set up a base camp in Badin, it will only conduct needs for the recovery phase, and not provide relief, said the UN official.

Many administrations of the calamity-hit districts have requested the provincial and federal governments to take control of the relief work as they lack the resources.

Badin district government had written a letter to the provincial government on the instructions of National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza for the instant release of Rs5 million ($57,471) out of the $229,885 that was pledged.

On Saturday, Chief Minister Shah met UN delegation and stressed that they needed complete support.

The UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) held a meeting with the representatives of up to 200 non-governmental organisations on Saturday.

The UN agencies will work in partnership with the local NGOs. Unicef will look after water and sanitation, the World Health Organisation will deal with health, the International Organisation for Migration will look after shelter for the displaced people, and the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation will work on food security.

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