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Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Associated Press



INTERNATIONAL AID GROWING
FOR PAKISTAN FLOOD VICTIMS
by Ashraf Khan, Associated Press Writer

Houses are submerged in floodwater in Shadad Kot near Sukkar, Pakistan on Monday, Aug. 23, 2010. Workers piled stones and sandbags to plug leaks in a levee protecting a pair of southern Pakistani cities Monday, as the floods that have destroyed homes, farmland and livelihoods moved slowly toward the sea.(AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

HYDERABAD, Pakistan (AP) — The world has given or pledged more than $800 million to help Pakistan cope with massive floods, the foreign minister said Sunday, as workers in the south used sandbags and stones to strengthen river levees in areas threatened by rising water.

Pakistan is grateful for the international assistance, which came after the United Nations appealed for $460 million in aid for the deluged country, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.

Pakistani families, who fled their area of Kamber due to heavy flooding, arrive at a camp in Hyderabad, Pakistan on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010. The world has given or pledged more than $800 million to help Pakistan cope with massive floods, the foreign minister said Sunday, as a surging river in the south led authorities to urge thousands more people to evacuate. (AP Photo/Pervez Masih)

"The total commitments and pledges that Pakistan has got so far are $815.58 million," he told reporters in Islamabad. "In these circumstances, when the West and Europe and America are going through a recession ... this kind of solidarity for Pakistan, I think, is very encouraging."

The floods began in late July in the northwest after exceptionally heavy monsoon rains, expanding rivers that have since swamped eastern Punjab province and Sindh province in the south. The deluge has affected about one-fifth of Pakistan's territory, straining the civilian government as it also struggles against al-Qaida and Taliban violence.

Tents are set up at a camp for Pakistani families displaced by floods organized by the Pakistan Army in Sukkar, Sindh province, southern Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

At least 6 million people have been made homeless and 20 million affected overall.

Aid flowed relatively slowly to Pakistan in the first weeks of the crisis, apparently in part because many countries were unaware of the vast scope of the damage. A relatively low death toll — around 1,500 people — may have contributed to misimpressions, analysts have said.

The U.S. has promised $150 million to help the country whose support it considers critical to winning the war in Afghanistan. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged nations to step up aid after a visit to Pakistan.

Pakistani flood survivor children get relief food in Camp Karoona near Peshawar, Pakistan on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010. The world has given or pledged more than $800 million to help Pakistan cope with massive floods, the foreign minister said Sunday, as a surging river in the south led authorities to urge thousands more people to evacuate. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

The floods are still wreaking havoc.

Three towns in the southern Sindh province's Thatta district were in danger over the weekend, and officials were evacuating thousands of people. The surge in the Indus River is expected to empty into the Arabian Sea after passing through.

At least two levees along the river are potential trouble spots and are being strengthened, said Hadi Bakhsh Kalhoro, an official with the Sindh provincial Disaster Management Authority.

"We are hopeful the flood will pass on to the delta without creating much trouble here," he said.

Pakistani flood survivor children look out from their makeshift tent set-up in the mid-section of a main highway in Camp Karoona near Peshawar, Pakistan on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010. The world has given or pledged more than $800 million to help Pakistan cope with massive floods, the foreign minister said Sunday, as a surging river in the south led authorities to urge thousands more people to evacuate. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

Pakistan can ill afford the crisis. The South Asian country's economy was already being kept afloat by billions of dollars in loans from the International Monetary Fund, and the cost of rebuilding after the floods will likely run into the billions.

The IMF said it will meet with Pakistani officials this week to discuss the floods and what the country must do to cope.

"The IMF stands with Pakistan at this difficult time and will do its part to help the country," said Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia department.


Written by Ashraf Khan, Associated Press Writer
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten , or redistributed.

Photos courtesy of AP Photo
Images created by Mohammad Sajjad, Pervez Masih, Fareed Khan, Kevin Frayer
Last changed on: 8/23/2010

UNHCR The United Nations Refugee Agency

UNICEF The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund

AVAAZ - The World in Action Another way you can stand with Pakistan

 

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