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Humanitarian action and intervention

58 - Response to the flooding in Pakistan

Grade: B-
Unity 3/5
Resources 3/5
Outcome 5/10
Total 11/20

While the European Commission, the UK and some other member states made significant efforts to help Pakistan after monsoonal floods, the overall EU response was fragmented.

Monsoonal floods in July and August 2010 displaced nearly 20 million people. The EU’s response was on a smaller scale to that following the Haitian earthquake but, by November 2010, just over €320 million had been pledged to addressing the crisis by European donors. However, three-quarters of this sum came from the European Commission and the UK, which pledged €150 million each in the first two months after the floods struck.  British politicians were critical of other large EU members for not giving more.

The Commission played a lead role throughout the crisis, deploying experts through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to coordinate aid in August. EU military staff in Brussels helped coordinate aid flights for the first time, while NATO also organised a series of flights. Two-thirds of the EU’s members made some sort of in-kind contribution such as providing generators, tents or water-purification systems. However, potentially significant donors, including France and Italy, gave relatively limited amounts – both financially and in kind. Mid-sized donors such as the Nordic countries and the Netherlands made comparatively greater contributions, while the Czech Republic chartered aid flights. In addition to its coordination and financial assistance, the Commission also responded to a request from the European Council to give indirect economic relief to Pakistan. In October, the Commission proposed liberalising trade on 75 types of goods from Pakistan valued at €100 million a year. This proposal was watered down after opposition from European textile maunfacturers.

The EU’s mixed response to the Pakistani crisis contrasted with a very large US effort – intended to win hearts and minds in the context of growing anti-American feeling – as well as an unusually high-profile Chinese relief effort. With European humanitarian aid budgets under significant pressure after Haiti, the EU’s overall response in Pakistan was at best uneven.