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More on Pakistani Floods

Posted by Lindy on August 4, 2010

The worst floods in memory in Pakistan have devastated the lives of more than 3 million people, while outrage over the unpopular government’s response to its people’s plight spreads. Anger was palpable in towns such as Charssada. People attacked trucks distributing relief items. Police then charged at them with batons

The catastrophe, which started almost a week ago and has killed more than 1,400 people, is likely to deepen as more rains are expected. A breakout of water-borne diseases such as cholera could create a health crisis. “The main problem there is outbreak of diseases, especially in Nowshera district where hundreds of dead animals are lying on the ground. Most roads linking flood-hit areas have been blocked and 91 bridges have been either washed away or damaged, so access to affected areas is still a challenge.”

Poorly resourced Pakistani authorities are struggling to help flood victims, many of whom have lost everything and say they received no warnings that raging waters were heading their way. United Nations World Food Program spokesman Amjad Jamaal said an estimated 1.8 million are in dire need of water, food and shelter.

Bistma Bibi, 65, who lost two grandsons in the floods, accused state relief workers of only helping friends or relatives. “I came here at 5 o’clock in the morning. I begged and fought but got nothing. They’re giving them (supplies) to their people,” she said.

President Zardari, meanwhile, is in Europe on a state visit, which has angered both ordinary Pakistanis and political parties who wonder why he is abroad during a difficult period. But  during a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris Zardari asked for immediate international aid.

The U.S. embassy has announced $10 million in immediate humanitarian aid, with more to be earmarked as necessary. The European Union will donate 30 million euros ($39.5 million) while China will donate 10 million yuan ($1.5 million).

To add to the people’s misery inflicted by the floods, food prices are also rising sharply as agriculture has been wiped out.

Authorities forecast more of the heavy monsoon rains that have been lashing the area for the past week.

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