UN warns of second wave of deaths in flood-hit Pakistan
The UN and aid agencies today warned Pakistan was not receiving enough funds and relief materials in the wake of unprecedented floods, giving rise to concerns about a second wave of deaths due to waterborne diseases and food shortages.world Updated: Aug 17, 2010 22:14 IST
The UN and aid agencies on Tuesday warned Pakistan was not receiving enough funds and relief materials in the wake of unprecedented floods, giving rise to concerns about a second wave of deaths due to waterborne diseases and food shortages.
The government, which has come in for sharp criticism for its handling of the deluge that has affected 20 million people, has been struggling to provide food, clean water and healthcare to thousands of stranded people and others living in relief camps.
"We are trying our best to give maximum support and assistance to the victims," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters during a visit to flood-hit areas in Dera Ismail Khan in the country's northwest.
But he acknowledged that his government's resources were limited and it was banking on foreign aid to help the flood victims.
The UN said eight million people needed emergency assistance and only a fraction of the displaced had been provided shelter, food and water.
"Money is not coming in as fast as we would like," UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano told the media.
Giuliano warned that Pakistan would face "a second wave of deaths" from waterborne diseases and food shortages unless more aid arrived soon.
Other international agencies, including the Red Cross, said they were only focusing of getting life-saving aid to the victims and the complete rehabilitation process could take several years.
The UN has said Pakistan's "image deficit" is affecting efforts to raise funds for the victims of the floods triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rains.
Experts have said the world community still has concerns that funds raised for the flood victims could be diverted by corrupt officials or reach banned extremist groups.
The flood waters have surged south into Sindh and Balochistan provinces in recent days after devastating wide swathes of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the northwest and central Punjab province.
The International Organisation for Migration, one of the NGOs involved in relief efforts, today said the number of displaced people – 20 million and rising – far exceeds the combined capacity of the government and aid agencies to provide immediate relief.
Aid agencies have distributed 98,000 tents and 72,000 plastic sheets to 134,000 displaced families nut at least another 488,000 homeless families may need help.
The greatest need is in Punjab, where 484,000 families are still waiting for shelter, and in Sindh, where 176,000 homeless families have not yet received tents or plastic sheets to shield them from the rain.
"This disaster is still evolving into something of unprecedented proportions and so the scale of the international response is still a work in progress," said IOM Pakistan Emergency Response Manager Brian Kelly.
Meanwhile, officials in flood-hit areas of Balochistan reported an outbreak of gastroenteritis in the Sibi region.
First Published: Aug 17, 2010 22:09 IST