More than 8 million Pakistanis in dire need: UN

The United Nations estimates eight to 10 million people in Pakistan still need daily help out of a total of 18.7 million affected by the flooding.
The UN estimates 8 to 10 million Pakistani flood victims still need daily aid. ((Mohammad Sajjad/Associated Press))

The United Nations estimates eight to 10 million people in Pakistan still need daily help out of a total of 18.7 million affected by the flooding.

The UN says that a month after Pakistan was deluged with the worst floods in a century, the situation on the ground is still dire in many parts of the country.

Some areas remain totally flooded — particularly in the extreme southern part of Pakistan which is close to the mouth of the Indus River — and vast numbers of people are still cut off from the aid they desperately need.

The town of Sujawal in the southern part of the country had been completely evacuated because it was one of the most severely affected flood areas.  However, dozens and dozens of people were trying to get back into the town Monday.

What they're coming back to is a pretty dysfunctional place, with still a few feet of water on the main roads and even more than that on the lanes and alleyways.

Although water still covers much of Sujawal, traffic is flowing again down the main street of the town in southern Pakistan. In places, it's now shallow enough for cars, trucks and even pedestrians who don't mind getting wet to splash their way through the middle of town — something they couldn't do just a couple of days ago.

The water was up to here, one man told the CBC's Tom Parry, pointing to his neck.  When Sujawal was evacuated, he sent his family away, but he remained, moving up to the roof where he kept watch over his house. He said he was worried about thieves getting into his home and stealing his property.

Now, there are reports of runoff from the Indus River that has gone into a lake in the north. It threatens to overflow the lake and cause new flooding and severe damage.

While a few hearty souls waited out the flood, many more moved to higher ground. In the nearby town of Thatta, a snake charmer coaxed a cobra from a wicker basket in front of the town's cemetery. This place is known as the City of Silence. Over the past weeks, however, this resting place for the dead has grown increasingly lively.

The cemetery is on a hill and families from Sujuwal and other flooded communities have taken up residence here, living among the graves. Hajarran Mirbhur lives here with her family and said it's horrible.

She hopes, as the water recedes, she and her family will be able to go back home. Like the thousands of others stranded by these floods, she's worried what she'll find when she gets there.

Meanwhile, the UN says it needs hundreds of millions of dollars in new donations to get food, water, medicine and shelter to Pakistanis hit by flooding. 

The UN is preparing to ask member nations to give an amount that will be at least double the $460 million US it requested last month at the start of the flooding, said Jean-Maurice Ripert, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for assistance to Pakistan.

The UN has received $310 million US toward the initial appeal, although private and bilateral donations bring the global total committed for Pakistan flood aid to roughly $1.1 billion US.