Aussie aid to Pakistan boosted to $75m

An extra $40 million in Australian government aid to flood-hit Pakistan will provide urgent necessities and help with the replanting of crops.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd made the announcement while making a flying visit to Punjab province.

Australia’s commitment now totals $75 million.

Included in the latest package is $11 million to help address urgent humanitarian needs for food, health, water and sanitation through the World Food Program, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.

A further $9 million will be funnelled to Australian non-government organisations for emergency relief and recovery efforts.

The bulk of extra funding, $20 million, will assist farmers to replant their crops, get children back to school and rebuild damaged health facilities.

Mr Rudd was in Punjab on his way to Washington where he will hold talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the situation in Pakistan.

He will attend a United Nations conference for global donors to discuss more assistance for those affected by the worst floods in Pakistan’s history.

Mr Rudd visited Camp Cockatoo on Thursday to make the announcement where armed Pakistani military have been guarding the 180 defence and AusAid workers from insurgents.

While at the camp, he gave the group the nod to start an outreach program and said the Australian Defence Force would ensure the aid workers were protected as they delivered aid.

Mr Rudd said the Australian team was treating about 250 people each day, supplementing Pakistan’s overstretched primary medical services.

The mission was scheduled to run 90 days but that period could be extended.

“Well, we’ll see because I am the Australian government – when it comes to AusAid,” Mr Rudd said.

“So, we’ll see what the local needs are because having spoken to folks about the unfolding needs, we might need to be creative about how we take this forward.”