WASHINGTON (ABP) — Baptist groups in North America and Europe are donating money to assist flood victims in Pakistan.
Baptist World Aid, the relief-and-development arm of the Baptist World Alliance, granted an initial $10,000 to meet medical, food and shelter needs. The funds will be disbursed through BMS World Mission, the major British Baptist mission organization, and partners including Operation Mercy.
"The Baptist World Alliance is deeply moved by the level of suffering of the Pakistani people at this time," said Paul Montacute, director of BWAid. "We ask all Baptists to remember the country and people of Pakistan in their prayers and offer practical expressions of help."
American Baptist Churches USA announced Aug. 19 the group's International Ministries arm had donated $20,000 to assist flood victims.
The grant will support ongoing work of Church World Service, a cooperative ministry of Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican denominations that raises money for humanitarian relief. The money comes from a fund raised by American Baptists and eight other Christian denominations called One Great Hour of Sharing.
"The people of Pakistan need our continued prayers and help by providing immediate relief," Lisa Rothenberger, world relief officer for American Baptists, said in a press release. "It's our privilege to partner with CWS on this relief effort — they have been on the ground delivering assistance since the flooding began."
Church World Service staff in Pakistan has set a goal of providing direct food and non-food assistance to nearly 100,000 individuals, or about 13,500 households, in response to the worst natural disaster in the nation's history.
Other Baptists are also extending assistance to Pakistan. Canadian Baptist Ministries is working through a group to offer assistance. The Baptist Union of Great Britain donated £10,000 toward the relief efforts to assist approximately 500 families in the Sindh region of North West Pakistan.
Monsoons since July 29 have left about one fifth of Pakistan's land mass under water. The floods have killed about 1,500 people so far, a relatively small death toll when compared to hundreds of thousands killed in recent disasters like the Asian tsunami or Haiti earthquake. About 20 million people have been affected, however, more than both of those previous disasters combined.
Despite that, international relief efforts pale in comparison to previous disasters. As of Aug. 19, the United Nations was less than halfway toward its request of $460 million from partner nations for relief in Pakistan.
The U.N. adopted a resolution calling for a stronger international response to the humanitarian crisis in an emergency session Aug. 19.
"Make no mistake: this is a global disaster, a global challenge," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the 192-member body. "It is one of the greatest tests of global solidarity in our times."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, one of more than 45 speakers scheduled to address the meeting held on World Humanitarian Day, said the United States would increase its aid to Pakistan by $60 million, to $150 million.
"I want the people of Pakistan to know that the United States will stand with you during this crisis," Clinton said. "We will be with you as rivers rise and fall. We will be with you as you replant your fields and repair your roads. We will be with you as you meet the long-term challenges to build a stronger nation and a better future."
The State Department also established a Pakistan Relief Fund to allow individual Americans to join the government's relief effort.
"Americans have always shown great generosity to others facing crises around the world, and I call on you to do what you can," Clinton said in a video on the State Department website. "Every dollar makes a difference. Five dollars can buy 50 high energy bars providing much needed nutrition; ten dollars can provide a child or mother with a blanket; and about 40 dollars can buy material to shelter a family of four."
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.