South Asia

Pakistan floods: UN appeals for $365m to help victims

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Media captionThe BBC's Orla Guerin: "Families are homeless, hungry, and threatened by disease"

The United Nations has launched an appeal for $365m (£231m) to help some six million Pakistanis who have been affected by devastating flooding.

The UN said the money would be used to help the affected people in the southern provinces of Sindh and Balochistan over the next six months.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is currently touring two towns in the flood-ravaged areas.

His government's response to the crisis has been heavily criticised.

The perception is that, for a second year running, his government has failed hundreds of thousands of flood victims, the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Sindh province says.

These floods - caused by heavy monsoon rains - have already killed 248 people and damaged or destroyed some 665,000 homes since they began last month.

Aid agencies are warning again of a humanitarian disaster as thousands of refugees stream towards Karachi, Hyderabad and other urban areas unaffected by the floods.

More than two million people are said to be suffering from flood-related diseases following the torrential rain, cases of malaria and diarrhoea are increasing, and at least 7,000 people are being treated for snake bites.

Hollow words

On a visit to the badly-hit towns of Nawabshah and Sanghar, Prime Minister Gilani announced that flood victims could live in government relief camps as long as they wanted and would be provided with food and shelter.

But they are hollow words for so many people living on the roads of rural Sindh, who say there are either no camps in their areas or that they have been turned away from places that are full, our correspondent reports.

He says his route was blocked by one group of women, who were so desperate they were sitting in the road to alert people to the fact that they had nothing and their children were dying.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says it is seeking $33.2m to supply tents, plastic sheeting and household items to an estimated 525,000 flood victims.

It has identified some 65,000 families in Sindh province and an additional 5,000 families in Balochistan who will receive the relief supplies.

"That so many of those caught up in this emergency were still trying to re-establish their lives after last year's terrible flooding makes this a very complex and urgent situation," said Mengesha Kebede, UNHCR representative in Pakistan.

Millions were displaced across the country and about 2,000 people died as torrential monsoon rains in 2010 caused rivers to burst their banks, washing away homes and property. Sindh was one of the worst affected regions.

People in Sindh have told the BBC they are angry the authorities have not done more in the wake of last year's disaster.

They say flood prevention projects and proper drainage systems could have saved homes and lives and an awful lot of misery.

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