The day after world donors raised aid pledges to almost two billion dollars, Holbrooke said the eventual cost of the monsoon disaster could run into the “tens of billions of dollars.”
“The international community will not be able to pick up the full cost of reconstruction,” Holbrooke said.
“There will be a need for continued international assistance, but what we need to stress is that at a time of scarcity in other countries, a reconstruction effort cannot be financed completely by other countries.”
The US envoy called on the Pakistani government to redouble its efforts to help the 21 million people the UN estimates have been affected by the disaster, including 12 million needing emergency food aid.
“They have to take the lead. Pakistanis know they have to do more and how much they do remains to be seen, and what the needs are remain to be seen,” Holbrooke said.
Torrential rain began falling in northern Pakistan in late July and the floods have since been moving slowly south, wiping out villages and farmland. The official death toll remains at just over 1,700 people.
USAID chief Rajiv Shah warned Monday that the risk of diseases such as cholera is increasing as people return to their homes.
“The first and most critical priority is to prevent the spread of water-borne illnesses,” Shah said.
“In a flood of this magnitude, even as the flood waters recede, the likelihood of water-borne illness and cholera… actually increase as people go back to their homes but do not have effective and safe sanitation environments, and water doesn’t completely recede.”
World powers made fresh aid pledges on Sunday after a two-billion-dollar UN appeal, but pressed the stricken nation to fully account for the money.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an “urgent” global response to what he said was one of the “biggest, most complex natural disasters” the world had ever faced.