UN says no aid yet for 6 mln flood victims in Pakistan

by
August 14, 2010

By Robert Birsel

SUKKUR, Pakistan Aug 14 (Reuters) – United Nations aid agencies have provided assistance to hundreds of thousands of victims of Pakistan’s worst floods in decades but relief operations have yet to reach an estimated six million people.

The lives of 14 million people — eight percent of the population — have been disrupted by one of the worst catastrophes in Pakistan’s history. Six million still need food, shelter and water, the UN said in a statement.

Highlighting the scale of the disaster, Prime Minister Raza Yusuf Gilani said in an Independence Day speech the country faces challenges similar to those during the 1947 partition of the subcontinent.

Thousands of families were torn apart after the bloody partition into Hindu-dominated India and Muslim-majority Pakistan that led to the flight of at least 10 million refugees in the greatest migration in recorded human history.

The floods, triggered by torrential monsoon downpours just over two weeks ago, engulfed Pakistan’s Indus river basin, killing up to 1,600 people.

Pakistan’s government, overwhelmed by the disaster, has been accused of being to slow to respond to the crisis with victims relying mostly on the military and foreign aid agencies for help.

Anger is spreading, raising the possibility of social unrest. In Sindh province, flood victims complain of looting and there are signs of increasing lawlessness.

“The government has given us half a carpet. We have received rice and medicine from the government but no tent,” said 22-year-old labourer Zarsheed.

Analysts say a military coup is unlikely because the army’s priority is fighting Taliban insurgents, and seizing power during a disaster would make no sense.

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