The general secretary of the United Nations has joined leading religious and secular aid agencies in calling for an upsurge in giving by governments and private donors to the victims of the 8 October Kashmiri earthquake, which has killed around 80,000 people and displaced millions more.
With the winter closing in on Pakistan, Kofi Annan warned of 'impending catastrophe'. Of the 200 million US dollars pledged by national governments, only a third has materialised. Some, like the Russian Federation, have contributed nothing. Others, such as Turkey, have given way beyond expectations.
At the UN's Ministerial meeting yesterday on humanitarian assistance for the quake affected countries in South Asia, the UK Disasters Emergency Committee urged governments to fully finance the huge relief and development effort that is needed.
More than £25 million has now been pledged to the DEC Asia Quake Appeal. Brendan Gormley, the charitable consortium's chief executive, said: 'Once again people across the UK are leading the way in their generosity online, by the emergency phone lines and through the post. We need them to continue as more money is desperately needed.'
Although donations continue to come in, the response has not been as strong as the Tsunami appeal at the beginning of 2005, when the Christmas and holiday season seemed to heighten the impact of disaster among the public.
With temperatures set to drop further as snow sets in over the coming weeks, the need for shelter and medical supplies is increasingly desperate.
According to the UN, three million people are homeless. Despite more than 300,000 tents already gone or on their way, the UN estimates that 1.5 million people will still be facing a winter without shelter.
Care International's Communications Manager Madhuri Dass says, 'We need winterised tents, warm clothes and blankets because of the changing weather. But the greatest need is tents, tents and more tents.'
The thirteen DEC member agencies are Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.
Some of these well-established groups are secular and some are rooted in religious - specifically Christian and Muslim - agencies. Together they are committed to providing assistance to all, without regard to creed, race, gender or ability.
Meanwhile in the United States, the Rev John McCullough, a United Methodist and the ecumenical Church World Service executive director, acknowledged the burden placed upon donors in a year that already has included such catastrophes as the Asian tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
'There can be no doubt this has been a most extraordinary year and one that has drawn heavily upon our financial and spiritual resources,' he told the United Methodist News Service.
He continued: 'Nonetheless, the horror of what continues to unfold in Pakistan, the complete decimation of towns and villages, massive loss of lives, and the nightmares that fill the thoughts of hurting and aching children, leave us little choice but to draw even deeper in our well of faith.'
The issue is not just compassion, McCullough noted, but a sense of justice 'and the valuing of others in the face of God. Pakistan is in desperate need of the portion that we can share.'
UK donations have been flooding in via the DEC website - www.dec.org.uk, via the 24-hour automated donations phone line - 0870 60 60 900 - and by cheques to PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA. Contributions can also be made at high street banks and post offices or through PayPoint.