By GULPARI MEHSUD
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-No sooner a UN helicopter carrying 12 Pakistani and foreign aid workers crash-landed in Pakistan’s Sindh province today than the medical team of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was ready to save their lives, in an incident that highlights one of the rare humanitarian missions of the Chinese military outside China’s borders.
Normally, the Chinese military has not been known to deploy military equipment outside China’s borders for humanitarian work. But in Pakistan’s case, PLA sent medical teams and military helicopters to help Pakistani authorities in post-flood relief effort.
In addition to the helicopters, PLA also set up a field hospital in Sahwan Sharif in Sindh.
This Chinese field hospital came handy when a UN relief helicopter made a crash landing today. Luckily, all 12 passengers survived with nonfatal injuries.
“A medical team of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) treated 12 injured UN aid workers in the field hospital which it set up in Sahwan of Sindh province of Pakistan on October 1,” a spokesman for the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Islamabad told PakNationalists.com
The UN flood relief helicopter carrying 12 aid workers including Pakistanis and foreigners crashed into a lake in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh on Friday morning due to a technical problem and caused injuries. The injured were sent to the Chinese hospital immediately.
CHINESE AID TO PAKISTAN FLOOD RELIEF: $300 MILLION
In a speech at the UN on 22 Sept., Premier Wen Jiabao of the People’s Republic of China announced that China will, on top of the pledged assistance, provide another $200 million assistance to Pakistan to support its rescue and relief efforts and helping the Pakistan people rebuild homeland.
According to a press statement by Mr. Huang Xilian, Deputy Head of Mission at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad:
“In light of the great loss of lives and property inflicted by the floods that have hit Pakistan since late July, China, as Pakistan’s close neighbor and all-weather friend, feels as much pain as the brotherly country does and has offered sincere, timely and unconditional assistance to the flood-hit brotherly country.
The Chinese government and people have been lending a helping hand in a variety of ways to help their Pakistan brothers and sisters to show love and care. This testifies to the brotherly friendship between the two governments and peoples and writes a new chapter in China-Pakistan history.
First, it is the first time that China provided such an unprecedented large scale of humanitarian aid to a foreign country. China is one of the first countries pledged assistance to Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of the floods which took place in late July. On August 1 the Chinese government promptly pledged to provide to the Pakistan government an emergency humanitarian assistance of RMB 10 million including materials of urgent need such as tents and medicine and had them delivered shortly on August 4. The Chinese government afterwards had provided additional humanitarian assistances to its brotherly neighbor for three times, making its total aid stand at RMB 320 million for the moment. The pledge of RMB 120 million has already been fully delivered in the form of relief supplies. They include 13,000 tents, 23,000 blankets and large quantities of power generators, water purification facilities, food and medicine. The Chinese government currently is in the process of preparing for the delivery of the remaining RMB 200 million humanitarian aid based on Pakistan’s needs. The new pledge announced by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made China’s total assistance to Pakistan exceed $250 million at the moment. Apart from the efforts of the Chinese government, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also provided RMB 10 million relief supplies to the Pakistan military in early August. Besides, a broad spectrum of the Chinese society has been voluntarily lending a helping hand to their Pakistan brothers and sisters. The All-China Women’s Federation, the Red Cross Society of China, local governments, NGOs, enterprises and individuals have all made donations in cash or in kind. The total value of these donations amounts to more than RMB 14 million as currently available data indicates. The actual amount would be much higher.
Second, it is the first time that China sent out overseas so many rescue and medical teams in its history. The Chinese government sent a 55-member international search and rescue team to the worst-hit region of Thatta in Sindh province late last month. It is the first international medical team reached the Thatta region. The team, including 36 doctors and 19 technical support personnel, brought 25 tons of high-tech medical equipments and medicine worth RMB 8 million. The medical team has treated more than 12, 000 patients. China’s second medical team consisting of 59 doctors and paramedics arrived in Thatta on September 14th and made remarkable achievements in providing medical services to the local people. On September 20, a PLA 68-member medical rescue team carrying 80 tons of medicine and other relief goods reached Pakistan. The team is at the Sahwan area of Sindh Province right now providing medical treatment to the flood-stricken people there. 20 members of the team are female who are more convenient to offer medical service to the women and children, a record high in PLA’s foreign medical aid history. In total, China has sent to Pakistan some 200 doctors and paramedics in three medical rescue teams by now, a record high in China’s foreign medical rescue history.
Third, it is the first time that Chinese military helicopters carry out an overseas humanitarian rescue and relief mission. To supplement the efforts of the Chinese government in helping the brotherly neighbor fight the mega floods, the PLA has dispatched four helicopters to Pakistan and the team had arrived in Pakistan for relief efforts. The four helicopters from China’s Xinjiang military area command took off from a military airfield in the western region with 64 rescue personnel and adequate relief goods. They were previously engaged in transportation and search and rescue operations in the wake of several major natural disasters in China.
Fourth, it is the first time that China send a large amount of humanitarian aid to the neighbor through land route. Upon the request of the Pakistan government and in response to the call of the United Nations, China sent to Pakistan 101 trucks carrying RMB 20 million humanitarian aid specially designated for the landslide and flood affected people in the upper Hunza area in Gilgit-Baltistan. The aid has reached Sust Dry Port on September 1, 2010 for distribution. The 3190 tons of supplies include 1850 tons of wheat flour, 737 tons of rice, 90 tons of milk powder, 30 tons of table salt, 193.32 tons of cooking oil, 180 tons of sugar, 83.35 tons of diesel, 20 tons of petrol, and 6 tons of medicine.They were dispatched from Kashgar of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to Sust Dry Port via the Khunjerab Pass by land. The aid is conducive to the efforts of the Pakistan government in helping the people in the country’s northern region cope with the incoming winter. They are enough to meet the basic need of the 25,000 local population for half a year.
Last but not the least, the Chinese diplomats in Islamabad are helping their Pakistan brothers and sisters in their own way. Diplomats and staff members of the Chinese Embassy voluntarily donated Rs 600,000 to the people in the flood-inflicted areas in Kyhber-Pakhtunkhwa province on July 28, setting an example for the diplomatic community in Pakistan. Chinese Ambassador Liu Jian traveled to Kyhber-Pakhtunkhwa and handed over the donation to local officials the same day. On September 9, the Chinese Embassy donated Rs. 1.12 million to the Thatta region of Sindh Province when Ambassador Liu Jian visited the worst-hit area. To express solidarity with the government and the people of Pakistan at this time of catastrophe and to pay respects to the flood victims, the Chinese Embassy has decided to cancel the scheduled reception in celebration of the 61th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and saved Rs 1.2 million for the flood-hit Pakistan people. The cash donation was handed over by Chinese Ambassador Liu Jian to Pakistan National Assembly Speaker Dr. Fehmida Mirza when Mr. Liu called on the Speaker on September 22.
China and Pakistan as true friends have always stood together and supported each other in times of need. Despite its own severe natural disasters, China has provided timely, efficient, sincere and generous assistance to Pakistan to the best of its capability. And we have not attached any conditions to our assistance or asked for anything in return. Nor have we taken our own natural disasters as the excuse to escape. China recently has suffered a lot from natural disasters such as floods and landslides whose damage are much more severe than in previous years. According to statistics, this year 27 out of the 34 provincial areas in China were hit by floods which affected more than 110 million people, 7,002 hectares of crops and caused about $21.3 billion in direct economic losses.
China, still a developing country and suffered from severe natural disasters as mentioned above, lends a helping hand to the brotherly neighbor because we value our friendship with Pakistan and we have done so out of an international humanitarian spirit. Facts have shown once again that China and Pakistan are true friends sharing weal and woe.
China will continue to closely follow the flood situation in Pakistan and provide sincere and selfless support and assistance to it within the realm of its capabilities, in accordance with the rehabilitation and reconstruction needs of Pakistan. China will send a reconstruction survey team to the disaster zone in the near future and encourage and support the active participation of Chinese enterprises in the reconstruction efforts. We will cooperate with relevant Pakistan agencies and provide training in disaster prevention and reduction to boost Pakistan’s capacity for early warning and disaster response
We are convinced that under the leadership of the Pakistan government and with the unremitting efforts of the relevant parties in the country and with the strong help and support of the international community, the diligent and brave Pakistan people will prevail over the difficulties and rebuild their homeland at an early date.”