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UN Appeals for $357 Million to Cope with Pakistan Floods

A woman escapes to higher ground from her flooded village in the Mirpur Khas district of Pakistan's Sindh province.

The United Nations has launched an urgent appeal for $357 million in foreign donations to help millions of Pakistanis in the country's south cope with catastrophic floods.

The U.N. said Sunday the floods have so far killed at least 300 people and forced more than five million others from their homes. It said nearly every district in Sindh province and several districts in neighboring Baluchistan province had seen flooding.

People in the affected areas are in urgent need of food, shelter, safe drinking water, and access to health services. Disaster management officials in Pakistan said the floods destroyed or damaged some one million homes and inundated more than two million hectares of farmland.

Every year Pakistan experiences flooding from monsoon rains that lash much of South Asia from June to September. But this year's flooding came at a time when many people are still recovering from last year's historic floods, which killed 1,700 people, affected 20 million others, and submerged one fifth of the country.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani canceled his trip to the United States to attend this week's U.N. General Assembly, in order to deal with the latest crisis. His office said that Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will address the gathering in New York in Mr. Gilani's place.