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World Bank pledges Pakistan funds

The World Bank has vowed to redirect £575 million of its existing loans to Pakistan to help in flood recovery, as the UN warned many of the 20 million people affected by the disaster have yet to receive any emergency aid.

Flooding began three weeks ago but the crisis could yet worsen, with authorities warning that the swollen Indus River may burst its banks again in the coming days.

Local charities and international agencies have rushed food, water, shelter and medical treatment to the worst-hit areas in the north-west and Punjab and Sindh provinces. But aid agencies and the British Government have complained that the international response to the disaster has not been generous enough.

The UN appealed last week for £293 million for immediate relief efforts. It has received 40% of that amount so far and another £27.5 million has been pledged.

UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano said: "We would like our pledges to turn into cheques as soon as possible because the situation is getting very bad."

The World Bank said the funds it is offering are to help Pakistan recover from the floods and would be redirected from ongoing and planned projects in the country.

With huge destruction to roads and bridges, and crops wiped out in many areas, authorities expect reconstruction to take years and cost billions. For now, many victims are living in makeshift camps alongside their livestock or in flooded towns and villages.

"The vast geographical extent of the floods and affected populations meant that many people have yet to be reached with the assistance they desperately need," the UN said in a statement.

It also said the number of children and breast-feeding mothers affected and increasing cases of diarrhoea "point towards a clear risk of malnutrition among the affected population".

The floods have killed about 1,500 people and inundated 1.7 million acres of wheat, sugar cane and rice crops, raising the prospect of food shortages in the coming months in the already-poor nation. Prices of food have risen sharply since the floods began.


From Belfast Telegraph