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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 15 July, 2020

#UN Chief

# un-chief - Thursday 19 August, 2010

FLOODWATERS WHICH CONTINUE to ravage Pakistan won’t recede until the end of this month, according to the country’s top meteorologist, Arif Mahmood.

Mahmood says that current flooding is heading for major cities in the south such as Hyderabad and Sukkur, but no heavy rain is forecast for this week.

Twenty million people have been affected by severe flooding which began three weeks ago. Just under 1 million homes have been damaged, leaving four million people homeless.

Pakistan’s national disaster management authority has set up special phone lines to help them identify the bodies of flood victims. Around 1,500 people have died.

Call for aid

Speaking on the radio this morning, Trócaire’s Paul Healy said the north of the country was a “desolate wasteland”, with no water, medicine or utilities to cook food.

The UN is holding an emergency session today, to push for international donors to supply funds for Pakistan. So far, only half of the $460 million the UN has appealed for has actually been pledged.

Minister Peter Power will address the General Assembly at the meeting, which begins at 8pm Irish time. The EU announced an extra €30m, bringing the total donated by the EU to €70m.

A spokesperson for the UN said that despite the initial sluggish response to the disaster, the pace of donations was picking up:

There has been an increase in the pace of pledges, but we still need more funds, tents, food, water and medical supplies.

Insurgency fears

As Pakistan’s military is consumed by flood-relief operations, fears that militants will take advantage of the crisis and return to areas where they were driven out are mounting.

The US held off on drone attacks planned for Taliban targets in northern Pakistan when the flooding began, but launched it first missile attack this month on 15 August, killing 13 insurgents.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announced an aid increase today that will push US aid to Pakistan over $100 million.

# un-chief - Sunday 15 August, 2010

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL Ban Ki-moon arrived in Pakistan today to visit regions devastated by severe flooding. Ki-moon has urged international governments to commit further funds to the aid effort.

Twenty million people have been made homeless and at least 1,600 killed by the flooding already described by the UN as being one of the world’s worst disasters. The UN has appealed for $460 million from international donors to help Pakistan in coping with the flooding.

Fears that diseases such as cholera and malaria could spread quickly among the survivors of the flood are growing after the first cholera case was confirmed yesterday. Containing a cholera outbreak is a priority of aid workers responding to the flood crisis.

Donor fatigue?

Aid agencies have echoed the UN chief’s call for emergency funding, saying that the response needs to be stepped up. Aid organisations say that conditions in Pakistan are deteriorating quickly and current resources are inadequate.

Ireland’s Oxfam director, Jim Clarken, said that the situation is worsening and the disaster requires a huge response:

The rains are continuing and each hour that passes the flooding is multiplying misery across the entire country. Swathes of Pakistan are still under-water and people have seen homes, shops, schools and crops flattened.

The world must not leave these people stranded. This is a mega disaster and it needs a mega response.

In comparison with the influx of aid in the wake of previous disaster, such as the Asian tsunami of 2004, the response to Pakistan’s crisis has been much slower, prompting concerns of ‘donor fatigue’ (people are tired of donating).

US drone attack

A US drone attack on militant targets in Pakistan’s volatile Waziristan region has killed 13 Taliban fighters, according to the Times of India. Six other militants were injured in the attack.

The US, which is pushing Pakistan in its battle against the Taliban, had suspended the missile attacks due to the country’s severe flooding and this was the first such attack this month.