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Mercy Corps to expand emergency response in Pakistan with $1.2 million grant from U.S. government

May 27, 2009

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Funds will enable Mercy Corps to meet the basic needs of 120,000 displaced people over the next four months. Agency turns its attention to the health needs of pregnant women.

Portland, OR – Mercy Corps today received notice of a nearly $1.2-million grant from the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) office of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). These funds will boost the agency’s response to massive humanitarian needs in northern Pakistan, where an estimated 2.4 million people have fled from violence between the Pakistani Army and Taliban militants.

The $1,189,000 grant will allow Mercy Corps to significantly expand operations to help displaced people over the next four months. The agency plans to distribute much-needed cash to families in the Mardan District of northern Pakistan, which hosts roughly 800,000 new arrivals. These funds will enable more than 20,000 families – 120,000 people total – to purchase household supplies and food items.

“Families had to flee the fighting with almost nothing. Most people, more than 80%, landed in host communities which have limited capacity to supply food and shelter,” said John Stephens, Mercy Corps’ senior program officer for South Asia. “With the help of this grant from the U.S. Government, Mercy Corps will take the pressure off of host communities, and address the immediate needs of desperate families.”

The OFDA grant will significantly expand a cash assistance program that Mercy Corps launched more than a week ago with a small amount of private funds. The agency has confirmed that strategic injections of cash are strongly linked to rapid recovery in post-conflict and post-disaster environments. In addition, cash gives people the flexibility to identify and purchase the resources they need most.

Mercy Corps’ next step is to address the needs of a particularly vulnerable population: pregnant women. It is estimated that 70,000 pregnant women have been displaced by the current fighting, and are in immediate need of medical attention and delivery assistance. Mercy Corps is a leader in maternal and newborn health in Pakistan, and plans to set up a number of birthing stations in Mardan to assist in deliveries and post-natal support.

Mercy Corps has worked in Pakistan since 1986. The agency’s efforts include supporting the fight against Pakistan's tuberculosis epidemic by providing treatment and training to hundreds of health clinics, improving the health of mothers and their newborns, and leading economic-recovery efforts in communities affected by the 2005 earthquake.

HOW TO HELP:
Mercy Corps
Crisis in Pakistan Fund
Dept NR
PO Box 2669
Portland, OR 97208
www.mercycorps.org
1-800-852-2100