Washington : Once again, Americans are using mobile phones to send donations for relief efforts in Pakistan as that nation grapples with intense, deadly flooding that has affected an estimated 3 million Pakistanis.
The State Department and U.S. Embassy Islamabad announced a new mobile phone donation campaign that asks mobile phone users to text “SWAT” to 50555. Each text donates $10 to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR ), whose emergency response teams are delivering supplies in Balochistan and Kyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
The donations support UNHCR’s efforts to distribute humanitarian assistance to an estimated 200,000 people displaced by floods. According to an Embassy Islamabad press release, the UNHCR is working in Balochistan to deliver 4,000 tents, 2,700 plastic sheets, 2,200 kitchen sets, and 4,000 plastic mats to the hardest-hit areas. The organization is also active in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it has distributed 3,000 tents in Nowshera District.
The devastating floods, which started July 29, have killed at least 800 people, with some news reports putting the death toll as high as 1,300. The U.S. has announced $10 million in initial humanitarian assistance for Pakistan and continues to assist with both financial resources and the immediate provision of urgently needed supplies requested by the Pakistan government, according to an August 3 State Department fact sheet. The U.S. is sending four Chinook and two Black Hawk helicopters to support relief efforts, and the U.S. continues to provide halal meals for distribution by Pakistani authorities, with more than 300,000 meals delivered as of August 3, the fact sheet said.
In 2009, the United States also set up text message donations for Pakistan, helping raise money through the UNHCR for tents, clothing, food and medicine for thousands of Pakistanis displaced from their homes. Americans also sent donations via text on behalf of Haiti relief efforts after an earthquake devastated that country in January.