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Up to six more months of Pakistan flood water: EU official

by Staff Writers
Islamabad (AFP) Nov 10, 2010
A senior EU aid official warned Friday that flood waters could linger up to another six months in Pakistan, where he said the magnitude of the crisis meant people were still going without aid.

"There is nearly water everywhere," Peter Zangl, the director general of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), told a news conference in Islamabad after a five-day visit to Pakistan.

Unprecedented monsoon rains triggered catastrophic flooding across Pakistan in July and August, ravaging an area roughly the size of England and affecting 21 million people in the poverty-stricken country's worst natural disaster.

Parts of Sindh province remain under water in southern Pakistan, where people are still camping on roadsides after the floods washed away their homes and swallowed up rice and wheat fields.

"The only perspective of getting rid of the water is evaporation. Depending on depth and climate conditions, this will take between two and six months," Zangl told reporters.

The displaced "need everything to survive and to live with minimum respectability and this situation will continue for several months," he said.

UN and Western officials have described the floods as the biggest natural disaster to face the international aid community and Zangl said the magnitude of the crisis was "tremendous".

"This explains that quite often we are confronted with a situation where aid is not being provided to everyone who is in need.

"This is something which is unfortunate. This is something on which we are working from the humanitarian community... but it's totally impossible to make sure that everyone gets aid under the circumstances," he said.

ECHO has provided 150 million euros, around 210 million dollars, as part of a control contribution from EU member states of 415 million euros.

Under US pressure, the Pakistani cabinet this week agreed to increase income tax in a bid to raise 470 million dollars for the victims of the floods.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have estimated damages at 9.7 billion dollars, almost double the amount caused by Pakistan's 2005 earthquake.

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