Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Agencies urge swift Pakistan action

Aid agencies have urged Governments to respond more quickly to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in flood-hit Pakistan as the UN Secretary-General arrived in the country.

Ban Ki-moon visited areas left devastated by the flood waters in the wake of the first official confirmation of an outbreak of cholera.

The United Nations said one case of the highly infectious, deadly waterborne disease was confirmed in the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan and other cases were suspected.

Oxfam claimed donors had failed to respond with the necessary swiftness and scale since the floods initially struck more than two weeks ago after heavy monsoon rains. The organisation said it hoped his visit would "inspire serious and tangible commitments from the world's richest governments".

Neva Khan, Oxfam's country director in Pakistan, said: "The speed with which the situation is deteriorating is frightening. Huge swathes of the country remain underwater, and we are extremely concerned about the risk of diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever.

"Communities desperately need clean water, latrines and hygiene supplies, but the resources currently available cover only a fraction of what is required. We hope that Mr Ban Ki-moon's visit to Pakistan will inspire the world's wealthiest countries to respond more quickly to this grave humanitarian crisis."

More than 1,500 people have died and just under 20 million have been affected by the flooding - the worst in the country's history. Aid agencies warned that six million children are at risk of life-threatening diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition and pneumonia.

Stagnant flood plains in densely populated, poverty-stricken urban areas may become breeding grounds for cholera, mosquitos and malaria.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) previously announced that donations made by the British public to help victims had reached £12 million.

The UN earlier launched an appeal to raise £293 million for the country, with millions of people in need of emergency assistance and medical care.


From Belfast Telegraph