UN says 800,000 cut off by Pakistan floods

Pakistan warns of new floods in south AFP – Pakistani flood-affected survivors stand in a queue to get relief food, at a makeshift camp, in Sukkur, …

ISLAMABAD – About 800,000 people have been cut off by floods in Pakistan and are only reachable by air, the United Nations said Tuesday, adding it needs at least 40 more helicopters to ferry lifesaving aid to increasingly desperate people.

The appeal was an indication of the massive problems facing the relief effort in Pakistan more than three weeks after the floods hit the country, affecting more than 17 million people and raising concerns about possible social unrest and political instability.

"These unprecedented floods pose unprecedented logistical challenges, and this requires an extraordinary effort by the international community," said John Holmes, U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

Earlier, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said hundreds of health facilities had been damaged and tens of thousands of medical workers displaced and the country's chief meteorologist warned that it would be two weeks until the Indus River — the focus of the flooding still sweeping through the country — returns to normal levels.

Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry said high tides in the Arabian Sea would slow the drainage of the Indus into it. Those tides, he said, will begin changing on Aug. 25.

"The flood situation is not yet over," Chaudhry said, adding that the Indus would reach peak flood stage late this week.

The floods began with hammering monsoon rains in the northwest and have swept southwards.

Many of those cut off are in the mountainous northwest, where roads and bridges have been swept away.

The United States has deployed at least 18 helicopters that are flying regular relief missions, but the United Nations said it would need at least 40 more heavy-lift choppers working at full-capacity to reach the estimated 800,000 stranded in the country.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that about 700,000 Pakistanis have been forced into makeshift settlements just in the southern province of Sindh.

While there have been no major disease outbreaks because of the floods, aid agencies are increasingly worried, saying contaminated water and a lack of proper sanitation were already causing a spike in medical problems in camps for the displaced.

"Pakistan and its people are experiencing the worst natural calamity of its history," Gilani said at a meeting on health issues in the flood zone. "As human misery continues to mount, we are seriously concerned with spread of epidemic diseases."

More than 3.5 million children are at risk from waterborne diseases, he said, and skin diseases, respiratory infections and malnutrition are spreading in flooded areas.

The problem is compounded by the flood's impact on the country's medical system — which has long been badly overstretched and underfunded. Gilani said the floods had damaged more than 200 health facilities, and that about one-third of the country's 100,000 women health workers have been displaced. Those health workers are the main primary medical care to millions of rural Pakistani women.

Dr. Jahanzeb Orakzai, Pakistan's national health coordinator, said a team has been formed to oversee the response to any flood-related health emergencies.

"Health problems usually arise in flood-affected areas after four to six weeks, and we need to be alert and prepared to tackle the situation," he said.

The aid group World Vision said it could be three months until some families are able to return to their homes.

"People are in urgent need of almost everything: shelter, health clinics, clean water, sanitation and livelihood support," Mike Bailey, the group's regional manager for advocacy said in a statement.

Local charities, the Pakistani army and international agencies are providing food, water, medicine and shelter to the displaced, but millions have received little or no help.

On Monday, President Asif Ali Zardari defended the government's much-criticized response to the floods, but acknowledged recovery would take a very long time.

"Three years is a minimum," Zardari said in an interview Monday with a small group of foreign reporters in Islamabad.

On Tuesday, officials announced that the government would give 20,000 rupees ($230) to every family affected by the floods, with a statement from Zardari's spokesman calling the payment "initial assistance."

Since the floods first swept the country, the Taliban and al-Qaida have been relatively quiet. But on Monday, three bomb attacks rocked the northwest, one of which killed the head of an anti-Taliban militia on the outskirts of the main city of Peshawar.

___

Associated Press writer Tim Sullivan contributed to this report.

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23,876 Comments

  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    Wasit 54 seconds ago Report Abuse
    Floods happened due to no fault of Pakistan and unless the international community provides sufficient funds to rebuild Pakistan, there will be serious consequences for world peace. One should not forget that Pakistan is a nuclear power state.
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    Anthony H 1 minute ago Report Abuse
    Where are the Muslims countries aiding their fellow Muslim brothers? The Saudi's spend almost a billion on a huge clock in Mecca and send a pittance to Pakistance of 100 million when they have billions in oil money. So they can fund madrassas which kill people, yet not send billions or their military? Where are the other Muslim countries? Where are their militaries? The USA doesnt have the MONEY to send to people anymore, and really should cut off all foreign aid to everyone. The USA is BROKE, we have empty pockets people. We have our own problems we are immense. Politicians in the USA should concentrate on rebuilding out manufacturing base which is now in CHINA due to businesses and politicians being suicidally stupid. There is no recovery people and we cannot spend our way out this mess which both parties and our idiot business leaders created. Last week or so, a new factory opened in China employing 200,000 people making i phones etc. What does the USA make anymore? Three brands of cars? We dont even make our own clothes. The Pakistanis should be helped by their brother Muslims not us infidels who they hate. The time has come to just say no to everyone, since we are BROKE!
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    CHRIS 2 minutes ago Report Abuse
    This one is easy... let the Taliban handle ALL RELIEF EFFORTS. What a tremendous opportunity for them to show the population just how useful they can be with shovels in their hands instead of guns. What???... you don't think it would work out so well???... oh well, at least they would have the opportunity to demonstrate their potential so that their adoring populous could be enlightened...
    have a nice day people
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    American Worker 2 minutes ago Report Abuse
    ....................../´¯/)
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    You will not get me or my family to revert back to the "Bronze Era" with your QURAN.
    Muslims were the ones who wanted the "PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE...Removed from our Public Schools morning announcements. Now you want to build a "Voctory Mosque" on OUR HOLY LAND @ Ground Zero..I am not a very religious person but Fa Q on that "Victory Mosque." I know what Islamization is and I know it does exist.....
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    American Worker 2 minutes ago Report Abuse
    ....................../´¯/)
    ....................,/¯../
    .................../..../
    ............./´¯/'...'/´¯¯`·¸
    ........../'/.../..../......./¨¯\
    ........('(...´...´.... ¯~/'...')
    .........\.................'...../
    ..........''...\.......... _.·´
    ............\..............(
    ..............\.............\...
    You will not get me or my family to revert back to the "Bronze Era" with your QURAN.
    Muslims were the ones who wanted the "PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE...Removed from our Public Schools morning announcements. Now you want to build a "Voctory Mosque" on OUR HOLY LAND @ Ground Zero..I am not a very religious person but Fa Q on that "Victory Mosque." I know what Islamization is and I know it does exist.....
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    Big Ed 3 minutes ago Report Abuse
    We need to get OUT of the UN and send them packing elsewhere.
    We are BROKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    Gene 3 minutes ago Report Abuse
    I think we all know whaere they can get 100 million dollars.
  • 2 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    Terrylee 6 minutes ago Report Abuse
    Paskistan will never be taken seriously as long as they play both sides of the fence....a barbaric country with third world brains.
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    Nature Laws 6 minutes ago Report Abuse
    In Continuation of our Part 1 reply (read below) to “We Wont Be Fooled Again”: This is part 2 of 3

    The Sheiks are not anxious to go to Allah heaven. They are comfortable with 200-300 harems in the tents. They are having 3-4 times harems in the tents what Allah could possibly offer the Sheikhs in Allah’s heaven. Irony, they want to protect their 200-300 harems in the tents by keeping eunuchs protecting the encroachments from you commoner Momins boys. They want you to keep off from their harems. But you fools continue to fight for the cause of the Mullahs who are working for the benefits of Sheikhs. Yet you lusty Islamic boys by having four wives, you still like to blow yourself in the markets of non-Moslems blowing away children, women and others. No mercy. Is this called the Allah’s mercy of peace? Don’t fool the world as your time is running out. It is even confirmed in the Koran i.e. 1400 years is all you got the time to exist as the most heinous faith with full of anger, lust, tricks and treacheries. The facts are these: The Mullahs and the Sheikhs are enjoying very lavish life style and they are trying to keep off the commoners Momins from their lavish style of life. So they have tempted you to do the dirty suicidal-missions to achieve Allah’s heaven leaving behind 4 crying women and children. Ask the Sheik to do the same. No, he would not as he is enjoying with 200-300 harems in the tent – he is not in hurry to leave – in fact he is protecting his harems from you commoner Muslims by keeping Eunuchs. What a shame that the commoners can’t share with Sheiks’ harems!

    Please continue next in Part 3 for our reply to keep up within context. It is important to know the Islamic Psyche ‘the reward’ that is being pushed through the throats of young boys of Islam by Mullahs influenced by petro-dollars of the Sheikhs who are leading the most lusty dirty life with unlimited Harems in tents. Islamic boys, Universal God is letting you know that it is time to go after Mullahs and Sheikhs to destroy you and your families misguiding to blow in the markets of non-Moslems.
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    Munna 8 minutes ago Report Abuse
    IDEA!!! Pakistan can sell their nukes and F16 back to the world. I bet many countries including US,India (maybe afganistan and saudi arabia) will buy it at a handsome price to get rid of the nuclear threat. Just like a garage sale!

    The money can be used to bring relief to the flood victims and everyone is happy!

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