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  • 9/20/2010

UN holds a special meeting on Pakistani floods

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The United Nations held a special ministerial meeting on Sunday aimed at securing emergency aid for the millions of victims of devastating floods in Pakistan.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top foreign ministers attended the meeting.

The World Health Organization has said recently that a feared second wave of deaths from the floods has so far failed to materialize, but noted the risk is very high that waterborne diseases such as cholera could spread and cause large numbers of deaths. There are also fears of food shortages and ensuing civil unrest.

On Friday, the international community appealed for a record two billion dollars in aid for the flood victims.

The UN has appealed to all member countries to come forward and help Pakistan at its time of need and not just make pledges but instead help the relief process in practicality.

The government of Pakistan said that a world-wide appeal for help will be made in October during the Friends of Pakistan conference as well.

Since then, the flooding has continued to spread, affecting more than 21 million people across a region of at least 160,000 square kilometers (62,000 square miles) -- an area larger than England, The Associated Press reported.

“We have all been struck by the enormous scale of the crisis,” Ban said. “The human tragedy is immense and it is growing. The flood waters are (still) moving.”

The floods killed more than 1,700 people and damaged or destroyed nearly 1.9 million homes over the summer.

Food, shelter and other emergency aid is still being supplied to displaced people in areas that remain under water. In regions where floodwaters have receded, aid is needed for early recovery efforts.

Crops, irrigation, drainage and storage facilities were devastated across the largely agricultural nation. Farmers who lost crops and who cannot plant again by November will probably remain dependent on aid well into 2012, the UN says.

Ban said children and pregnant women have been left particularly vulnerable by the crisis. “Pakistan is not facing just one humanitarian crisis, but many,” Ban said. “All of this makes the Pakistan floods the worst disaster the United Nations has responded to in its 65-year history.”

The UN's new humanitarian chief, Undersecretary General Valerie Amos, said countries had already been generous this year, contributing more than $5 billion so far in response to various UN appeals for humanitarian relief.

“But more is now needed,” Amos said. “We must do our part. We simply cannot stand by and watch the immense suffering in a disaster of this scale,” she added.

The UN is seeking funding for food, health, education, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as the operating of camps for displaced people, the recovery of the country's farm sector, and rebuilding of communities.

Photo: People displaced by floods are seen in their tents at a makeshift camp in Sehwan town, Sindh province, on September 14, 2010. (Getty Images)

Source: therantimes.com

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