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Call over Pakistan reconstruction

Reconstruction efforts in flood-ravaged Pakistan must start immediately to avoid devastating long-term consequences for the country, Oxfam has warned.

One month since the disaster, the international aid agency said the flood waters were continuing to rise with 500,000 people forced to evacuate their homes in recent days.

It said reconstruction planning should begin now amid the ongoing rescue efforts and urged the international community and Pakistan's government to work together.

Oxfam said billions would be needed to rebuild schools, hospitals, roads and bridges.

Neva Khan, Oxfam's country director in Pakistan, said: "One month into a crisis we would have expected the situation to have stabilised and the long term planning to have begun. But we are still in phase one of an increasing catastrophe, evacuating people, providing them with shelter, trying to get clean water and sanitation to those people who need it. Pakistan doesn't have the luxury of waiting for the emergency phase to be over before starting the reconstruction."

Oxfam said more than 17 million people had been affected by the floods, more than the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Kashmir earthquake and the Haiti earthquake combined, with five million left homeless after their homes were washed away.

Villages in the south of the country were still being threatened by the prospect of fresh flooding, with new crop cultivation at risk.

Khan added: "Two-thirds of the population are dependent on farming. There is a real danger that many of Pakistan's farmers will miss the winter planting season which is just round the corner in September because their land is still under water or they have been forced to flee.

"Pakistan's children should have gone back to school in mid-August but with more than 7,000 schools destroyed or damaged, and a further 5,000 being used as temporary shelters, they face months of disruption to their education. And the clean-up operation will take months, meaning millions of people are facing winter spent in temporary shelters or out in the open."

The aid agency said the reconstruction efforts must focus on ensuring the country was better placed to cope with future disasters.


From Belfast Telegraph