08/17/2010, 00.00
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Floods: the World Bank will send 900 million in aid

Rain continues, refugees now 20 million. Insufficient funds for immediate help, insufficient food, water, medicines, shelter. Great risk of epidemics, especially for the 3.5 million displaced children, first case of cholera. The Taliban bring aid to infiltrate affected areas.

Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The World Bank (WB) will give 900 million dollars to Pakistan, hit by the worst floods in its history. Water has submerged entire regions and caused more than 20 million refugees in need of everything and about 2 thousand confirmed dead.

The United Nations warn that for immediate aid for food, clean water, shelter and medicines at least 460 million dollars are needed immediately. So far they have collected about a third. Pakistan has warned that it is unable to supply refugees, which are about one tenth of the population, even with  necessities for their survival: the aid convoys are at times attacked by the refugees, fearful of not receiving enough to live on. Tens of thousands of people live in precarious shelters prepared by the roadside. Yesterday a group of refugees occupied a highway to ask for immediate aid, protesting the slow pace in relief. Doctors Without Borders warns that the risk of epidemics is high, especially for the 3.5 million displaced children, because many places lack drinking water. Maurizio Giuliano, head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says at least 6 million people lack food and water and fears that there may be "a second wave of deaths" if aid does not arrive soon. Yesterday, the UN reported the first case of cholera.

A spokesman for CARE International noted that the UN, to get more donations, must also convince donors that aid will not “end up in the hands of the Taliban”, which in many areas are in turn bringing material aid to the population. The Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi warned of the danger that Islamic extremists could take advantage of the needs of people presenting themselves as a benchmark alternative to a government.

Meanwhile the rains continue and the Indus River continues to swell and overflow, threatening other villages.

Britain’s High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan estimated that the country's reconstruction will require more than 5 years and not less than 15 billion, because water and mud have destroyed roads, bridges, communications, swept away at least 900 thousand homes, or damaged buildings such as schools and hospitals.  Floods have also destroyed the crops needed for domestic consumption for damages amounting to 1 billion dollars according to the World Bank. In Sindh province 90% of crops were destroyed. Assistance is required for everything, even to restore crops when the water finally recedes.  


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