Pakistan wins more flood aid

 Pakistan won more aid pledges Tuesday after concerns that money is not coming through fast enough to help 20 million people hit by unprecedented floods and stave off a "second wave of death" from disease.

Torrential monsoon rain triggered catastrophic floods which have affected a fifth of the country, wiping out villages, rich farm land, infrastructure and killing an estimated 1,600 people in the nation's worst ever natural disaster.

The United Nations last week launched an immediate appeal for 460 million dollars to cover the next 90 days and UN chief Ban Ki-moon visited Pakistan at the weekend, calling on the world to quicken its aid pledges.

A female Pakistani flood survivor blows on a fire as she makes bread on high ground in the flooded area of Pathan Wala on August 16, 2010.

Officials now estimate that 35 percent of the funds have been committed. Japan on Tuesday came forward to pledge an additional 10 million dollars in emergency aid and Australia promised an extra 21.6 million dollars.

"There are grave risks that the flooding will worsen Pakistan's social circumstances but also its long-term economic circumstances will be potentially devastated," Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told ABC Radio.

State media in Saudi Arabia said the country had raised 20.5 million dollars in aid on the first day of a national campaign for the Pakistani floods.

Flood survivors cramped into sweltering tent cities or camping out along roadsides have hit out furiously against Pakistan's weak civilian government.

Britain, which is emerging from a recent diplomatic row with Pakistan, branded the international response "lamentable" and charities said Pakistan was suffering from an "image deficit" partly because of perceived links to terror.

A UN spokesman said Monday he feared Pakistan was on the brink of a "second wave of death" unless more donor funds materialised, with up to 3.5 million children at risk from water-borne diseases.

The World Bank also agreed to provide Islamabad with a loan of 900 million dollars, warning that the impact of the disaster on the economy was expected to be "huge".

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged the world to speed up aid urgently, while Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the country could not cope on its own and warned the disaster could play into the hands of insurgents.

"We fear we're getting close to the start of seeing a second wave of death if not enough money comes through, due to water-borne diseases along with lack of clean water and food shortages," Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

He told AFP that about six million people were at risk of deadly water-borne diseases, including 3.5 million children.

Typhoid and hepatitis A and E are also concerns, he said, adding that the World Health Organization is preparing to assist up to 140,000 people in case of a cholera outbreak.

The United Nations estimates that 1,600 people have died in the floods, while the government in Islamabad has confirmed 1,384 deaths.

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said about one quarter of the aid had come from his country and charged that some nations had not yet grasped the scale of the catastrophe.

"The response from the international community as a whole, I have to say, has been lamentable. It's been absolutely pitiful."

Care International spokeswoman Melanie Brooks said the UN must explain to donor states that "the money is not going to go to the hands of the Taliban".

"The victims are the mothers, the farmers, children," she said.

The nuclear-armed country on the frontline of the US-led fight against Al-Qaeda, where the military is locked in battle with Taliban in the northwest.

"At that very crucial time this natural disaster has affected the ability and the capacity and the economy of Pakistan," Qureshi told the BBC.

"The damage and the magnitude is too large for natural resources to cope with it... Pakistan needs your help."

source AFP

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