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Humanitarian Needs in Flood-Stricken Pakistan Rise

The United Nations says it is expanding its relief operations in Pakistan as humanitarian needs continue to rise in this flood-stricken country. Aid agencies warn the persistent movement of floodwaters to provinces in the south is increasing the number of people affected by the disaster.

Latest available figures put the number of people significantly affected by the floods at more than 17 million, with eight million people needing urgent humanitarian aid.

The United Nations reports millions of hectares of agricultural land have been inundated, crops destroyed and some 3.4 million heads of cattle lost.

The World Food Program reports it has distributed one-month rations to 2.2 million people affected by the floods and to another 500,000 refugees and people displaced by conflict. They were on the WFP caseload before the floods.

While this is progress, WFP says it still falls short of the six million people in need of emergency aid. WFP spokeswoman, Emilia Casella, says hundreds of thousands of flood victims living in remote, isolated villages remain cut off from aid.

She says the only way to reach them is by air, but the agency does not have enough helicopters to fly the food there.

In addition, she says WFP is facing a shortfall of $90 million on its $150 million appeal. "We are appealing to donors to respond and also to those donors who have made pledges to actually confirm those pledges because those pledges actually need to be confirmed in order for us to be able to go ahead and acquire the food that is needed to be brought into the country. Procurement needs to be done to keep our pipeline flowing, especially for these increased needs," said the spokeswoman.

The United Nations reports it has received about 70 percent of the $460 million it initially sought for flood relief. However, the United Nations says it underestimated the number of people suffering from the disaster and it plans to issue a revised appeal in mid-September.

The World Health Organization says water-borne and insect-carrying diseases are increasing, especially in Sindh and Punjab provinces. The UN health agency says the biggest medical problems include acute respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, skin infections and malaria.

WHO spokeswoman, Fadela Chaib, says suspected cases of malaria are increasing in Sindh and Balochistan provinces. She says there are no reported deaths yet, but cases of malaria are expected to increase in the next four weeks.

"WHO has provide diagnostic kits, artemisinin-based combination therapy and other malaria treatment for the population in need," said Chaib. "Medical supplies covering the needs of 2.6 million people have been delivered, including medicines for diarrhea."

Chaib says the World Health Organization has enough money to take care of health requirements for the next two months. After that, she says, more money will be needed to replenish the medicine stock. She notes WHO has received less than half of its $56 million appeal.