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Pakistan: Second wave of deaths forecast

World bank pledges $90 billion – but there are fears the money could go to the Taliban.
Aug 17th 2010, 9:20 AM 304 0

AS HEAVY RAINS fell again on Pakistan yesterday, adding to the worst flooding in the country’s history, the UN warned that a “second wave” of deaths could be on the way.

Up to 3.5 million children are now believed to be at risk from water-borne diseases, in the disaster which has already killed 2,000 and affected 20 million more.

Preventing this wave of disease is the first priority of international relief workers, but concerns are also growing about food-shortages and the longer-term effects of the disaster on the nation’s economy, food supply and political stability. The autumn planting season is in jeopardy, meaning that Pakistan may be facing several years of food shortages.

United Nations spokesman Maurizio Giuliano told the New York Times that clean water, food shortages and diseases were the main problems facing the Pakistani people.

There was a first wave of deaths caused by the floods themselves. But if we don’t act soon enough, there will be a second wave of deaths. The picture is a gruesome one.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has agreed to loan Pakistan $900 million to help the recovery effort.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, told the AFP news agency it would take at least five years for the country to recover, and put the reconstruction bill at “more than $10 to $15bn”.

However, international aid efforts have been hampered by what some have described as a sluggish response to the disaster.

Some believe Pakistan’s “image deficit” may be responsible for the apparent apathy, as potential donors fear the funds would be diverted into extremism in the country.

Melanie Brooks, a spokeswoman for Care International, told AFP the UN had to do more to convince donors that the money was “not going to go to the hands of the Taliban”.

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Jennifer O'Connell

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