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With roughly one-fifth of Pakistan submerged by massive flooding, more than 17 million people have been affected. At least 8 million need clean water, shelter and other life-saving emergency assistance in what has been described as the nation’s worst natural disaster.
Officials warn that millions of flood victims are at risk of food shortages and waterborne diseases, such as cholera.
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reports that flooding has led to more than 1,700 deaths, injured 2,865 people and damaged more than 1.8 million homes. Over 1 million people have been rescued so far.
The floods, which resulted from heavy monsoon rains in late July, began in Pakistan’s northwest region. From there, they swept southward, destroying thousands of towns and villages and millions of acres of crops in the Punjab and Sindah provinces, which are considered Pakistan’s “breadbasket,” according to The Associated Press.
The Pakistani government has ordered nearly half a million people to evacuate.
“There is no electricity, no water, no sanitation, no food. The only thing there are in numbers is mosquitoes,” said one protester. “We cannot bear the screams of our children. They are hungry” (AP).
Pakistan has accepted $5 million in relief supplies from neighboring India, its longtime rival. India’s UN ambassador assured, “We are willing to do all that is in our power to assist Pakistan in facing the consequences of floods” (BBC).
The European Commission, which has already given $50.7 million in emergency relief assistance, has pledged an extra $38 million.
Meanwhile, public criticism is growing over what is viewed as a slower-than-expected international response. Demonstrations in Pakistan, some violent, have erupted in or near affected areas.
Thus far, the United Nations has only raised roughly 70 percent of the needed $460 million in emergency funds.