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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
UN to meet on Pakistan aid, 4.6 million without shelter

US envoy urges China to help flood-hit Pakistan
The US pointman on Pakistan called on China Thursday to join the global effort to help Pakistan cope with devastating floods, saying billions of dollars were needed for the country's reconstruction. "I think the Chinese should step up to the plate," Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, told reporters at an Asia Society event also attended by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Holbrooke noted that Washington was the first and largest contributor to the global effort but said China, as a close ally of Islamabad, should play its part. The US envoy said "many billions" of dollars would be required to help Pakistan recover from the disaster, which has left nearly 1500 people dead, 20 million people affected and a fifth of the country under water with the risk of cholera, typhoid and hepatitis growing. The UN General Assembly was holding a special meeting Thursday, attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to discuss how to scale up international assistance to Islamabad. Clinton told a Pakistani television station Thursday that Washington was increasing its aid to Pakistan by 60 million dollars, to a total of 150 million.
by Staff Writers
Islamabad (AFP) Aug 19, 2010
The United Nations on Thursday estimated 4.6 million people are still without shelter after Pakistan's devastating floods, tripling its target number for assistance as it prepared to drum up more aid.

The UN has described Pakistan's worst humanitarian crisis as one of the world's biggest disasters, but while foreign aid is now reaching some of the 20 million flood victims, critics have slammed the response as too slow.

At least six million survivors are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, in desperate need of food, shelter and clean drinking water, with concerns growing over potential outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.

"Roughly 4.6 million people are still without shelter," Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Islamabad, told AFP.

The estimate includes hundreds of thousands of people who are still on the move, he said. Not all of them could be considered technically "homeless" because they may find homes to return to when the flood waters recede.

"In this context we have decided to increase the number of targeted beneficiaries for tents and plastic sheeting from the initial figure of two million to at least six million," he said.

At a camp for the displaced from across the country, survivors are battling with crippling heat, miserable sanitation and swarms of mosquitoes.

Many fled their homes with just the clothes on their backs and have been forced to drink contaminated water, causing watery diarrhoea.

The UN General Assembly meets in New York on Thursday in an effort to hasten the delivery of aid after receiving just over half of the 460 million dollars (360 million euros) appealed for last week.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a meeting in New York that his country needed the foreign aid immediately.

"We do need international assistance, we need international assistance now," Qureshi told the Asia Society in New York, hours before he was due to deliver the same message at the Assembly.

He said he would tell the assembly session "what a serious challenge Pakistan is facing at a time when the government of Pakistan has succeeded in building a consensus against extremism and terrorism."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to use the UN meeting to announce extra American aid -- currently 90 million dollars -- after the floods wiped out entire villages, farmland and infrastructure.

"We still need more funds, tents, food, water and medical supplies," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

A resolution urging the international community to help Pakistan recover in the medium and long-term will also be on the table, amid signs foreign donors are rallying in support of the embattled Muslim nation.

The Asian Development Bank said it would provide two billion dollars to repair roads, bridges, power lines, homes, schools, medical facilities and farm structures, and the World Bank has promised to lend 900 million dollars.

"The extent of human suffering caused by the floods cannot be easily quantified, nor can the damage wrought upon the country's physical and social infrastructure," said the ADB's chief for central and west Asia, Juan Miranda.

"But what is clear is that this disaster is like no other in living memory, and that our response must also be unprecedented, equal to the need and fast."

Although weather forecasters say the monsoon systems are easing off and water levels receding, the fallout from three weeks of devastating floods that have left nearly 1,500 people dead is likely to last for years.

Senator John Kerry on Thursday became the first senior US policymaker to visit areas ravaged by the disaster, flying over affected areas in Punjab with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is on the frontline of the US-led fight against Al-Qaeda and is locked in battle with homegrown Taliban who have been blamed over a three-year bombing campaign that has killed more than 3,570 people.

Islamabad has confirmed 1,475 deaths in the flodding, but WHO representative Guido Sabatinelli told AFP he suspected the toll was much higher.

"We're talking about 20 million people affected today and there is no infrastructure and no health centres that can register the deaths," he said.

related report
US to boost Pakistan flood aid to 150 million dollars
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that US aid is swelling to 150 million dollars for Pakistan and called for a halt to extremist attacks during the flood crisis as an "expression of common humanity."

Clinton told a Pakistani television station that she would announce the expansion, from the current 90 million in US aid, at a crisis UN meeting Thursday aimed at mobilizing international support which to date has fallen far short of the country's humanitarian needs.

"I want to see more, and today at the United Nations I will be announcing more US assistance," the top American diplomat told Dawn TV, in a transcript provided by the State Department.

When asked if the new aid total would be 150 million dollars, she said: "Yes. And I will also be announcing a way for individual Americans to contribute; a fund that I'm setting up here in the State Department."

The State Department has said US flood aid was being distributed through the Pakistani authorities or relief organizations on the ground to "provide critical supplies to flood affected populations."

It also said 18 US military and civilian military aircraft stationed in Pakistan and three in Afghanistan have been deployed in support of relief and rescue operations.

The United Nations estimated 4.6 million people are still without shelter after Pakistan's devastating floods, tripling its target number for assistance as it prepared to drum up more aid.

The UN has described Pakistan's worst humanitarian crisis as one of the world's biggest disasters, but while foreign aid is now reaching some of the 20 million flood victims, critics have slammed the response as too slow.

Pakistan has also warned that extremists may seek to exploit the disastrous conditions as the Pakistani military diverts resources to help battle the floods.

Clinton stressed that it would be a common-sense "expression of common humanity for the terrorists to cease their terrible attacks" in the midst of one of the worst disasters in Pakistani history.

"Why are the terrorists targeting for assassination and bombing Pakistanis at a moment of great natural distress?" she asked on Dawn TV.

"Have they no shame? Have they no conscience? While the people of Pakistan are literally fighting for their lives against the effects of this flood, the terrorists seem not to care."

related report
Britain announces doubling of aid to flood-hit Paqkistan
Britain vowed on Thursday to double its emergency aid for flood-ravaged Pakistan to more than 64 million pounds (99 million dollars), an official told the UN General Assembly.

But British Development Secretary Andrew Mitchells made clear that London would only release the funds to partners who show they can actually provide the medicine, food, clean water and shelter the Pakistan people desperately need.

"I have come to New York directly from Pakistan, where I saw the dire need for more help," Mitchells told a special assembly session called to drum up support for increased global assistance to Pakistan's 20 million flood victims.

"It is deeply depressing that the international community is only now waking up to the true scale of this disaster," he said.

Mitchell said the doubling of British aid "should now provide water and sanitation to 500,000 people; shelter to 170,000 people; help meet the nutritional needs of 380,000 people and provide enough health services to cover a population of 2.4 million people."

The United Nations has described Pakistan's worst humanitarian crisis as one of the world's biggest disasters while survivors have slammed the government's slow response.

At least 1,500 people have died following three weeks of monsoon-fed floods.

Around six million survivors are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, and are in desperate need of food, shelter and clean drinking water, with concerns growing over potential outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.

The floods wiped out villages, farmland and infrastructure, and UN aid coordination body OCHA said more than 650,000 homeless families were still without basic shelter.




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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
'Terrorists' cannot be allowed to exploit floods: Pakistan
United Nations, Usa (AFP) Aug 19, 2010
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told UN members states Thursday that 'terrorists' must not be allowed to exploit his country's flooding disaster. "The massive upheaval caused by the floods and the economic losses suffered by the millions of Pakistanis must be addressed urgently," he pleaded. "We cannot allow this catastrophe to become an opportunity for the terrorists." H ... read more

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