United Nations (AFP) Sept 17, 2010
The United Nations on Friday appealed for a record two billion dollars in emergency aid for the millions of victims of Pakistan's devastating floods.
The Pakistan floods are "the worst natural disaster the United Nations has responded to in its 65-year history," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the appeal.
The floods caused by weeks of torrential rain have left less than 2,000 dead, according to an official toll, but the UN said the massive surge has exposed more than 20 million people to homelessness, malnutrition, risks of epidemics and loss of livelihood.
"We simply cannot stand by and watch the immense suffering in a disaster of this scale," said Valerie Amos, the UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, announcing the mega-appeal.
The UN is seeking to focus more international attention on the floods, which emergency officials have compared to the Haiti earthquake and 2004 Asian tsunami even though the death toll is significantly lower.
The 2,006,525,183 dollars requested by 15 UN bodies will be used to help 14 million people over the next 12 months, the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
The previous record emergency appeal made by the UN was the 1.5 billion dollars sought after the Haiti earthquake in January.
Eleven billion dollars has been sought in humanitarian appeals this year, which the UN said was the most since they started in 1991.
India was among the early contributors to the new call for cash for its neighbour and former arch-rival. It handed over a cheque for 25 million dollars at the UN headquarters.
The UN launched an appeal for 460 million dollars for Pakistan on August 11 and this is now 80 percent funded, officials said. The new appeal includes this sum.
The UN said money was needed to buy food, set up emergency camps, rebuild agriculture and villages which have seen drinking water and sanitation wiped out.
Agencies have warned of a looming health crisis in Pakistan with 709,000 cases of acute diarrhea, almost one million cases of skin disease, more than 800,000 cases of acute respiratory infections and hundreds of thousands of cases of malaria and dengue fever that are spread by mosquitoes.
The flood water is still moving from the north of Pakistan to southern provinces causing huge new emergencies.
"Yesterday, new breeches of the embankments of Manchhar Lake in Sindh flooded more villages. Millions of people have lost everything. Our task is to give people the help they need," said Amos.
The floods have affected more than 10 per cent of Pakistan's population spread over an area bigger than 160,000 square kilometres (62,000 square miles). Some 1.9 million homes have been damaged or destroyed.
OCHA said there was "immense" damage that may take years to put right.
"Farmers who lost their crops and who are not able to plant their fields by November are likely to remain dependent on aid until well into 2012. Hundreds of thousands more lost their shops or other small businesses."
"In these difficult financial times, countries have been extremely generous in helping those in need around the world, contributing over five billion dollars to appeals this year," said Amos.
"But more is now needed. The government and the people of Pakistan have already done much to help families affected by these floods. We must also do our part -- we simply cannot stand by and watch the immense suffering in a disaster of this scale," she added.
The Pakistan floods will be the topic of a special ministerial meeting at the United Nations headquarters on Sunday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top foreign ministers attending.
The International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday it would give Pakistan a 451-million-dollar loan to help the flood recovery.
earlier related report
The United Nations is to launch a fresh appeal for funds on Friday to help victims of the catastrophe which left some 10 million without shelter since the floods started nearly two months ago.
"We have probably reached something like 2.1 million people, that is only about 17 percent or less than a fifth of the families that actually need emergency shelter," said Chris Lom from the IOM which is taking part in the UN-led relief effort.
Briefing the reporters on the latest situation in the flood-hit areas, Lom said they only had enough funds to help at most 50 percent of those in need of shelter.
"If we include the tents and plastic sheeting currently ordered by the 70 or so... agencies, we think that 17 percent will probably rise to 50 percent, so about half of the people who need emergency shelter will get it eventually."
He said providing shelter for the other 50 percent of affected people would depend on the response to the new UN appeal.
"Now beyond that 50 percent coverage in next couple of months, we will be extremely depending on further funding, that is why we are waiting at this point to see what the international response will be to this new appeal," he said.
Pakistan's worst floods in history have affected up to 21 million people and left 10 million without shelter. More than eight million people are reliant on aid handouts just to survive.
The UN Family Planning Association said tens of thousands of the half million pregnant women affected by the floods could face complications to give birth.
"Some 1,700 out of total 500,000 pregnant women will go into labour every day," said UNFPA representative Sara Raza Khan.
"250 out of these women might have a complicated labour and they would need emergency medical services, which means 15 percent of total pregnant women need urgent medical care," she said.
The United Nations is to launch a new appeal for funds in New York on Friday, although UN figures show that donors have met only about two-thirds of an initial appeal for 460 million dollars issued on August 11.
Visiting US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also voiced calls for more action to assist with relief and recovery efforts.
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United Nations (AFP) Sept 15, 2010
The new UN humanitarian chief has warned that after the Asian tsunami, the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods, the world must brace for a growing number of disasters that will need a new battle campaign. Valerie Amos, the new under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, called for new thinking on combating mass catastrophes as she prepared to make ... read more
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