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News  


 

Cholera confirmed as UN chief to tour Pakistan floods

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Saturday 20 million people had been affected by the worst floods in the country’s history as the UN confirmed the first cholera case.
Independence Day celebrations were cancelled as floods continued to bring misery to millions and aid agencies warned of a “second wave” of deaths from disease.
“The floods affected some 20 million people, destroyed standing crops and food storages worth billions of dollars, causing colossal loss to national economy,” Gilani said in a televised address to the nation.

“I would appeal to the world community to extend a helping hand to fight this calamity.”
The United Nations has appealed for 460 million dollars to deal with the immediate aftermath of the floods but charities say the figure falls far short of what is needed.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Pakistan later Saturday to discuss the relief effort and visit flood-hit areas.

“This is the worst-ever calamity for us and the entire nation will have to show courage to face it,” Gilani said, adding”, I am pretty confidant that the nation will once again emerge victorious from this crisis.”
“Outbreak of epidemics in the flood-hit areas is a serious threat, which can further compound the already grave situation,” Gilani added, as the UN authorities confirmed the first cholera case.

“There has been at least one cholera confirmed case in Mingora,” Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, told AFP, referring to the main town in the northwestern district of Swat.
Giuliano said at least 36,000 people were reportedly suffering from acute watery diarrhoea.
“We’re not suggesting that everyone who has acute watery diarrhoea has cholera, but cholera is certainly a concern and that’s why we’re stepping up our efforts to treat cholera,” he said.
Charities said relief for those affected by the worst natural disaster in Pakistan’s history was lagging far behind what was needed.
“There are millions of people needing food, clean water and medical care and they need it right now,” said Jacques de Maio, head of operations for South Asia at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“Clearly at this point in time the overall relief effort cannot keep pace with the overall scale of the emergency.” he said.