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Pakistan flood crisis still unfolding: UN

Funding for flood relief in Pakistan is increasing but more aid is needed to help the millions of people affected by weeks of devastating floods, the United Nations says.

Pakistan accepts $5M from India in flood aid

People reach for food distributed from a truck Friday in a village in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan's Punjab province. ((Reinhard Krause/Reuters))

Funding for flood relief in Pakistan is increasing, but more aid is needed to help the millions of people affected by weeks of devastating floods, the United Nations says.

The floods have affected about one-fifth of Pakistan's territory, straining its civilian government as it also struggles against al-Qaeda and Taliban violence. Millions of people have been made homeless, and the economic cost is expected to run into the billions of dollars.

Speaking at a special meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that the disaster in Pakistan is like "few the world has ever seen, requiring a response to match."

The UN made an initial appeal for $460 million US in emergency assistance to meet immediate needs in Pakistan. Donors have so far provided 55 per cent of that, but UN officials have called for more aid Friday to help deal with a crisis that is still unfolding.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi appealed for help Thursday, saying the "scale of the challenge is colossal, far too big for any developing country to handle alone."

The U.S. said it would increase its contribution to flood relief to $150 million, the U.K. increased its commitment to roughly $100 million – and even India has sent aid to its neighbour.

Pakistan accepted $5.2 million in aid from India for flood victims, a rare expression of goodwill between the feuding neighbours at a time when Pakistan is reeling from one of its worst natural disasters.

Water levels are receding in some areas, but flooding is continuing in parts of the country, including Balochistan and Sindh. Water from the north is coursing down the Indus and other rivers, tearing apart homes, submerging crops and contaminating water supplies.  

Indian aid 'highly appreciated'

Qureshi told India's NDTV that the government had accepted the money from India, though it took several days for Islamabad to reach the decision in light of the countries' poor relationship.

Families carry their children across a flooded road in Baseera, Punjab Province on Friday. ((Aaron Favila/Associated Press) )

"It is highly appreciated in Pakistan and we have recognized it," he said in New York.

India's foreign office welcomed the decision to accept the aid, Press Trust of India reported, adding the government was willing to provide more assistance.

India also provided aid to Pakistan after the 2006 Kashmir earthquake that killed more than 70,000 people.

Local aid groups, the Pakistani and U.S. armies and international aid agencies have helped hundreds of thousands of people with food, shelter, water and medical care, but the distribution has been chaotic and has not come close to reaching everyone.

The head of the World Health Organization in Pakistan said Friday there had been "sporadic cases" of cholera among 20 million people affected by the disaster, many of them living in crowded and unsanitary conditions.

But Guido Sabatinelli told reporters he was "optimistic that there is no immediate threat of a cholera epidemic."

With files from The Associated Press

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