Pak floods: UN launches largest ever natural disaster appeal

The new amount includes the initial August appeal of USD 459 million, which is now 80 per cent funded, but leaves a shortfall of about USD 1.6 billion, according to the UN.

"We have all been struck by the enormous scale of the crisis," Secretary Ban Ki-moon said yesterday while launching the appeal.

"The human tragedy is immense and it is growing, the flood waters have kept moving.. The wall of water has now washed over the south of the country."

"In the floods wake we're seeing hunger, misery and desperation," Ban added, noting that Pakistan people were suffering from malnutrition, skin diseases, and the spread of diarrhoea.

The floods in Pakistan are the worst natural disaster the United Nations has had to deal with in 65 years.

Responding to call for international donations, India has handed over USD 20 million to Ban for the 'Pakistan Emergency Response Plan'.

"The magnitude of the tragedy makes it incumbent on the international community to pool its energy and resources to assist Pakistan in its efforts to rebuild and rehabilitate the devastated energy," Hardeep Singh Puri, India's envoy to the UN, told the General Assembly.

"Generous support from the international community to the revised Pakistan's Flood Emergency Response Plan would be critical in providing necessary impetus to ongoing relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts," he said.

The floods have hit an area of at least 160,000 square kilometres and impacted an estimated 21 million people.

Farmers who have lost their crops there and who are not able to plant their fields by November are likely to be dependent on aid until 2012, the UN said.

Before Pakistan, the largest natural disaster appeal was launched after the Haiti earthquake for USD 1.5 billion.

Around USD eleven billion has been sought in humanitarian appeals this year -- the most since they started in 1991, the world body said.

"In these difficult financial times countries have been extremely generous in helping those in need around the world, contributing over USD 5 billion to appeals this year," Valerie Amos, UN's emergency relief coordinator, said.

"But now more is needed. We must also do our part--we simply cannot stand by and watch the immense suffering on a disaster of this scale," she added.

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