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UN calls for more donations to help Pakistan

The United Nations (UN) has made an appeal for 459 million dollars to be donated towards helping flood-devasted Pakistan. Unless more help is forthcoming, the UN fears that a second wave of death will hit the stricken people of Pakistan, as survivors of the floods fall ill from diseases and food shortages.

The death toll currently stands at 1,600 people, with 14 million or 8 percent of the population now affected. The UN says the disaster is the largest the country has faced, with millions of people displaced and mass devastation to crops. It is estimated that half a million tonnes of both wheat and sugar may have been destroyed by the floods.

Many governments have already promised money. The USA has committed 55 million dollars to flood relief work and a further 16.2 million dollars to the UN and International Red Cross. The British government has pledged 24 million dollars.

A spokesman for the UN humanitarian operations in Pakistan said that the total amount of money offered by governments currently totals 150 million dollars. That kind of sum is required just to feed 6 million people over the next three months, according to the UN World Food Program.

Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, flew over some of the worst affected areas to see the extent of the damage. His Finance Ministry, along with the International Monetary Fund, warned that the harm caused to Pakistan’s economy would probably mean the country missed its target of 4.5 per cent growth of gross domestic product.

The Begium-based Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) has reported the Pakistan floods are the second worst to befall the world this decade. During 2000-2009, seven of the eleven most severe floods happened in Asia, where a high number of rural poor are affected since many live along the river banks in countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In the future, Asian governments must focus more attention on putting early warning flood systems in place to limit the number of fatalities. In addition, effective evacuation procedures need to be set up by strengthening institutional bodies which deal with disaster management. These improvements will require political committment and funds.

For the moment, the focus for spending available money is to provide shelter, food and clean sanitation for the homeless and displaced. Aid agencies will also need to plan and prepare for malnutrition and respiratory illnesses in the damp conditions, particularly amongst children, who are most at risk when food aid begins to dry up four or five months after the immediate emergency has passed.

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