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Pakistan thanks world for flood aid

Pakistan has thanked the world for opening its wallets and said more than 20 million flood victims now knew that nations and people around the globe were standing with them during the worst disaster the country has ever faced.

Wrapping up a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to spotlight the immediate need for aid, Pakistan's UN ambassador Abdullah Haroon said the initial outpouring from around 70 countries was "indeed heartening".

But he stressed that the country would need much more help in the months and years to come.

At the start of the meeting on Thursday, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said donors had given just half of the £295 million the UN had appealed for to provide food, shelter and clean water for to up to eight million flood victims over the next three months.

Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that he was assured the £295 million goal will be met. But UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said that the UN appeal was not yet fully funded.

During the general assembly meeting, Mr Holmes said countries also announced contributions directly to the Pakistani government, UN agencies and humanitarian organisations.

Aid groups and UN officials had worried about a slow response to the flooding, saying that donors who had spent heavily on a string of huge disasters in recent years were reluctant to open their wallets yet again.

Mr Haroon thanked the United Nations - especially Mr Ban, who flew to Pakistan, and general assembly president Ali Abdessalam Treki, who called the aid meeting - for showing compassion and taking action when others did not.

On Thursday, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced that the US, already the biggest donor, would contribute an additional £38.4 million, bringing its total to more than £96 million, and that about £59 million would go into the UN's relief coffers.

The European Union raised its pledge to more than £115 million, and Mr Qureshi said Saudi Arabia would be giving "100 million dollars plus (£64m)". In addition, Britain said it would double its contribution to nearly £64 million, on top of £16 million in public donations, and Germany raised its aid to £20.5 million.

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