Pakistan will require long-term aid, says Clegg

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Media captionNick Clegg: "The international community didn't react with sufficient speed"

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has warned flood-hit Pakistan will need aid for years to come, after seeing the devastation there for himself.

Mr Clegg said the threat of disease and exploitation by extremist groups meant the disaster would have a "long tail".

After visiting camps near the southern town of Sukkur in one of the worst hit regions, he said the "aftershocks" would "last for a long time".

He said the worldwide response was too slow but praised Britain's donations.

"I think the sheer scale of this, it is really quite difficult to comprehend," said Mr Clegg.

Danger of disease

"We have to make a huge effort to provide important emergency aid, but really stick with this for the long term."

Mr Clegg stressed the flood waters had not drained away in many areas and there was a "real danger of diseases taking hold".

"It's going to take years and years for normality to come back to Pakistan," he said.

He also warned the disaster could increase the influence of extremist groups.

"The danger always is that you get groups who have an ulterior motive who provide aid to try to curry favour," he added.

20m people homeless

The deputy prime minister visited a Pakistan Air Force flood relief camp at Sukkur. It houses more than 3,000 refugees, and Mr Clegg was shown a clinic and spoke with children at a makeshift school.

At nearby Sukkur airport, he was briefed on the situation by aid agencies and met President Asif Ali Zardari, who was also touring the camp.

The British government has committed £33m in aid to help deal with the disaster and earmarked up to £64m.

Meanwhile, the charity appeal for Pakistan has raised a total of £42m.

The appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) raised £9.5m in week one, £11.2m in week two and £19.3m in week three.

The worst floods to hit the country in decades have left at least 1,600 people dead and an estimated 20 million homeless.

Mr Clegg's time in Pakistan follows a visit with British forces in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

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