News / Asia

Flooding Threatens More Pakistan Communities

Pakistani men and boys gather to receive food at a camp for the displaced set up inside a college on the outskirts of Nowshera, 2 August 2010
Pakistani men and boys gather to receive food at a camp for the displaced set up inside a college on the outskirts of Nowshera, 2 August 2010


Floodwaters that have already ravaged Pakistan's northwest are sweeping south into Punjab province, as more than 3 million people struggle to cope with the growing disaster.

Authorities are working to evacuate thousands of residents from Punjab, where water flowed into villages, destroying homes and farmland, and are also on alert in neighboring Sindh province.  Monsoon rains are expected to continue in the coming days.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited flood-hit areas in Punjab Wednesday and met with his Cabinet to discuss relief efforts.  At least 1,500 people have been killed in the floods.  Mr. Gilani said so far 100,000 people have been rescued.

Pakistani leaders face growing anger over what residents say is a slow government response.  Many have also questioned President Asif Ali Zardari's decision to continue a trip to Europe.

The World Food Program said nearly 2 million people are in need of food assistance, as rising waters are destroying crops across the country.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Pakistan can count on long-term U.S. support.  She outlined U.S. aid that has already been sent and announced a program in which Americans can contribute to the relief effort.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday he is dispatching his special envoy, Jean-Maurice Ripert, to Pakistan to join the U.N. team already engaged in relief efforts.  

The International Red Cross said that in addition to other damage, floodwaters have destroyed much of the health infrastructure in the worst affected areas, leaving people especially vulnerable to water-borne diseases.

The United Nations, Britain and Canada also have committed millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan.

Islamist charities, some with suspected ties to militant groups, also have stepped in to provide aid to flood victims.  

Prime Minister Gilani announced Wednesday that Cabinet ministers will donate one month's salary to flood victims.

Related video report by Carla Babb:


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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