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UN hits Pakistan flood cash target

The United Nations appeared to have met its target of £295 million in immediate aid for flood-stricken Pakistan, after Britain, the US and other nations dramatically upped their pledges.

The rush of promised help came after UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, addressing a hastily-called meeting of the General Assembly, urged governments and people to be even more generous than they were in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and this year's Haiti earthquake.

Mr Ban said the floods were a bigger "global disaster" with Pakistan's government now saying more than 20 million people needed shelter, food and clean water.

"This disaster is like few the world has ever seen," Mr Ban told the meeting. "It requires a response to match. Pakistan needs a flood of support."

Before the meeting, donors had given only half the sum the UN had appealed for to provide food, shelter and clean water to up to eight million flood victims over the next three months.

But Mr Ban said all the money was needed now - and much more would be needed later.

After listening to speeches by top-level representatives of around 20 countries, Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he was assured that the £295 million goal "is going to be easily met", including "100 million dollars plus (£64m)" from Saudi Arabia.

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

Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, told reporters before the meeting that he believed that where the tsunami and Haiti catastrophes happened suddenly, "for about 10 days people didn't realise that this wasn't just another flood".

On Thursday, after visiting flood areas with Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari, US senator John Kerry warned of extremists who might "exploit the misery of others for political or ideological purpose, and so it is important for all of us to work overtime".

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