Mark Ward, Acting Director for the US Agency Developments Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, is shown with aid boxes in a Jebel Ali warehouse bound for Pakistan. Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/Gulf News

Dubai: The US government has chosen a warehouse, based in Dubai, as the main relief centre for the flood-affected families in Pakistan.

At present, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has sent $111 million (about Dh409 million) as funds to Pakistan to provide relief to the 20 million people affected by the floods, which started on July 22.

The flooding has thus far affected 79 of Pakistan's 122 districts and destroyed and damaged 1.9 million homes since September 23. Nearly 1,800 people have died.

"More than 50 boats have left from Dubai, as well as a helicopter full of supplies, which left on Thursday morning, to bring humanitarian assistance, such as blankets, plastic sheets, mosquito nets, razors and toilet paper, to Pakistan," said Mark Ward, Acting Director, US Agency for International Development, OFDA.

The warehouse in Dubai Ports, measuring 38,000 square feet, proves to be a strategic location for the US as it continues to send aid to Pakistan.

It houses enough provisions to help 150,000 people and is restocked every few days with goods from the US.

Busiest warehouse

"Our ability to respond quickly is due to the location of the warehouse, which is only a couple of hours away.

"Although we have three warehouses around the world, in Italy, Miami and the US, the one in Dubai has been the busiest," Ward said. He added that even though the OFDA intends to remove its 17 aid workers employed at the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) from the flood-stricken country, the government has plans to send a permanent relief body to reconstruct Pakistan.

The OFDA has also provided nearly $14 million to eight relief agencies for health services, including diarrhoea treatment centres, mobile health clinics and for distribution of medicine. "We are the first to respond by providing immediate relief to disaster-struck areas.

"So far, we've donated over 11,000 plastic sheets from the Dubai warehouse alone, and every few days we continue to send hygiene kits and toiletries," said Ward.

This is not the first time that the Dubai-based warehouse has contributed towards helping a disaster-struck area.

Earlier, it helped out by sending provisions to Bosnia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, (Jammu and) Kashmir, and most recently, to Haiti.

Reach out: Quick information to extend assistance

To make donations, residents can contact the US Agency for International Development (AID) at: www.usaid.gov/pakistanflooding.

The US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has also established the Pakistan Relief Fund, details for which can be found at: www.state.gov./pakistanrelief/index.html