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UN, Pakistan Appeal for International Assistance for Flood Victims


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging the international community to generously assist the people of Pakistan. Mr. Ban visited the flood-devastated nation on Sunday and said more money is urgently needed for immediate assistance needs including food, shelter and health care. Responding to that call, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the United States is increasing its flood aid to Pakistan to $150 million. A special General Assembly session was held Thursday on the situation in the flood-ravaged country.

"Village after village - washed away. Roads, bridges, homes - destroyed. Crops and livelihoods - wiped out. I met women and men with very little in the best of times, awash in a sea of suffering," said Mr. Ban.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi echoed the urgent need saying the country is facing a "natural calamity of unprecedented proportions". "Our commitment and resolve notwithstanding, the scale of the challenge is colossal, far too big for any developing country to handle alone. We hope that the international community will come forward in all earnestness," he said.

Flood waters have devastated a fifth of the country since monsoon rains swept in at the end of July. The rains are not expected to end for another two weeks. The United Nations and Pakistan's government say 20 million people have been affected and have put out the call for nearly a half billion dollars to help fund immediate needs including food, drinking water, shelter and sanitation. In the past week, just over half that amount has been pledged, but the support is not coming in fast enough and the call was renewed on Thursday.

The United States has been at the forefront in assisting Pakistan since the flood waters began rising. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised the United States would stand with Pakistan as the country rebuilds and announced Washington would increase its flood assistance by $60 million to more than $150 million.

"Approximately $92 million of that total is in direct support of the U.N. relief plan. These funds are being used to provide critical supplies and support operations of the Pakistan Disaster Management Authority and other organizations inside Pakistan. The United States is providing technical assistance and mobilizing military and civilian resources as well. Today, I want to call on the American public and American corporations to support these relief efforts. Every dollar makes a difference," she said.

The European Union also announced a significant new contribution, saying it is boosting its flood assistance to more than $180 million. The United Kingdom said it is doubling its commitment to nearly $100 million.

Nearly 50 nations were expected to speak at the General Assembly. At the start of the session, member states adopted a resolution expressing the international community's solidarity and sympathy with the people of Pakistan and urging donors to extend their full support to the flood victims.

Secretary-General Ban also said he is considering holding a high-level meeting on Pakistan when world leaders convene here next month for the General Assembly annual debate.

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