Bay village, OHIO (AP) A former U.S. State Department official called on Monday for a $2.6 billion international aid package to help feed an already over-flooded nation struggling with a record-high number of people and severe drought.
William Schmitt, who was assistant secretary for international humanitarian affairs, made the comments during a talk at the Iowa State University campus in Des Moines.
He called on nations around the world to step up to the plate to help the people of Bangladesh, India and elsewhere, and for a concerted international effort to combat the spread of droughts, which he said have killed more than a million people.
“It’s very difficult to say ‘Oh my God, what’s happening in Bangladesh?'”
“But we have to be more conscious about how we are using the resources of the world.”
The World Food Program, a U.N. agency, said Monday that it would be providing $1.7 billion in humanitarian aid for the region.
The aid, which includes food, medicine and construction supplies, will be distributed to more than 7 million people in Bangladesh, including more than 6.5 million people under the age of five, the World Food Programme said.
About 1.2 million people live in Bangladesh.
Schmitt said the U.L.T.S., an international NGO that focuses on humanitarian issues, has seen a record number of rainfalls in recent years.
He said the United States has helped Bangladesh, which was already suffering a drought before the monsoon rains in September and October.
He said U.D.C. has already spent $10 million to help in Bangladesh and expects to be working to provide more in the coming months.
“We will work with the Bangladeshi government and the World Bank to provide a long-term financial lifeline to these countries, which are suffering,” Schmitt told a packed crowd of about 100.
The U.K.-based charity Oxfam said on Monday that Bangladesh was the worst-affected country for severe droughting in the world.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said that in addition to the flooding and landslides that have ravaged the country, millions of people are being affected by a record heat wave.