Pakistan: EU ministers must ‘match kind words with hard cash’

European countries must rise to the challenge and pledge more aid to support reconstruction efforts in Pakistan.

That’s the message from Michael Cashman MEP as the European Parliament holds an important debate on what more can be done to help people in the aftermath of the devastating floods.

Cashman, Labour’s European spokesperson on international development, hit out at the failure of many European governments to fulfil their responsibilities to a country in dire need: “Europe’s reputation as a force for good in the world risks being undermined by governments who are unwilling to give the help that is so desperately needed. What we need now is more focused and better coordinated aid.

“There is still much to be done and, with the focus now moving on to the rebuilding of infrastructure, we need ministers to match kind words with hard cash.”

“The British government should also do all it can to put pressure on other countries to up their support for the region.”

Cashman welcomed the European Union’s response to the crisis, particularly Commissioner Georgieva’s coordination, but warned that it may not now be able to cope with another crisis: “After the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan, the EU aid budget is running on empty.

“I have very serious concerns about whether the Commission will be able to act if yet another disaster were to strike this year.”

Cashman also stressed the importance of reaching the Millennium Development Goals, which would prevent such disastrous consequences when natural disasters strike: “At the United Nations summit this month, international heads of state will have to make new ambitious commitments to developing countries, and we, the European Union, as the biggest aid donor, should be at the forefront and have the guts to lead the way to eradicating poverty.”