UN chief urges faster aid for Pak

UN chief urges faster aid for Pak

Officials warn of second and third wave of floods as heavy rains continue

UN chief urges faster aid for Pak

Swollen by torrential monsoon rains, major rivers have flooded Pakistan’s mountain valleys and fertile plains, killing up to 1,600 people and leaving two million homeless.

Six million people still need food, shelter and water and medicine, the United Nations says. Pakistan’s government, already facing a Taliban insurgency, now faces the risk of social upheaval and long-term economic pain.

With an area roughly the size of Italy affected by floods, government and foreign aid has been slow in coming and the United Nations has warned of a second wave of deaths among the sick and hungry if help does not arrive.

Only a quarter of the $459 million aid needed for initial relief has arrived, according to the United Nations. That contrasts with the United States giving at least $1 billion in military aid last year to its regional ally to battle militants.

The UN has reported the first case of cholera amid fears that disease outbreaks could spread with survivors sleeping in makeshift tarpaulin tents. Some beg or loot. Bridges have collapsed, highways have been snapped in two by torrential rains and villages have been cut off from the outside world in what was already one of the poorest countries in Asia.

“I am here... to share my sympathy and solidarity of the United Nations together with the people and government of Pakistan at this time of trial,” Ban said on arriving in Pakistan.
“I am here also to urge the world community to speed up their assistance to Pakistan.”

Trip causes anger

Ban met both Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari, who has been a lightening rod for popular anger after travelling to Europe as the catastrophe unfolded and not cutting short his trip. The UN leader visited flood hit areas on Sunday.

With no respite in sight for rains, the prime minister’s office on Sunday warned that a “second and third wave of floods might turn out to be more dangerous.”  Officials say rains will continue and some reservoirs and dams could burst.

The meteorological department said heavy rains are expected in Punjab and the northwest and scattered rains in Sindh and Baluchistan over the next two days. Pakistan’s government has been accused of being too slow to respond to the crisis with victims relying mostly on the military — the most powerful institution in Pakistan — and foreign aid agencies for help.

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