June 17th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Text Aid to Pakistan

Program Note: Tune in tonight for special coverage of World Refugee Day on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET. And learn more about how you can help by visiting Impact Your World.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/06/16/world.refugees.report/art.refugees.gi.jpg caption="Displaced Pakistanis battle severe winds and dust at Jalozai refugee camp near Peshawar."]


The refugee crisis in Pakistan is one of the grimmest in the world and the situation is only worsening. As of January 2009, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported nearly 1.8 million people had fled their homes to escape the violence, primarily between the Pakistani army and the Taliban in and around Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Today, estimates of refugees range near 2.5 million.

Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new way for people to donate to the U.N.’s Pakistani refugee efforts by texting on a cell phone. This is in addition to the $100-million humanitarian aid package the U.S. government pledged last month.

By texting “SWAT” to 20222, Americans can make a donation to the U.N. to help alleviate Pakistan’s refugee crisis. “A $5 contribution will help the UNHCR provide tents, clothing, food, and medicine to hundreds of thousands of affected people,” Clinton said.

The donation shows up on the user’s cell phone bill and is then credited to a non-profit organization called USA for UNHCR that takes tax-deductible donations for the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Clinton has high hopes for the initiative. “I’m hoping that we’ll have a big response to the text messaging. Just think if a million people in the United States gave at least $5, that’s $5 million. And that would be a significant contribution from ordinary citizens, just people who care about what’s happening.” USA for UNHCR claims that $5 can register 15 displaced Pakistanis for assistance and protection.

As violence continued in northwest Pakistan today, the European Union pledged at a summit to give Pakistan 20 million Euros ($27.8 million) in humanitarian aid. Both the EU and the U.S. see security in Pakistan as a foreign policy priority.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Hillary Clinton • Impact Your World • Pakistan
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Abeeha

    I am from Pakistan, but from a way wealthier part. But, how much is actually donated, how much is used?

    June 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  2. Sarah A Malik

    That's interesting. But who's going to follow up on this and see how much was actually donated? Who's checking the results?

    June 17, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  3. Tina

    During Katrina, I think it was Pakistan that donated tons of money to aid relief.

    June 17, 2009 at 5:39 pm |