Pakistan floods affect more than four million people: UN
Pakistan's worst floods in generations brought on by torrential monsoon rains have affected more than four million people and killed some 1,600, the United Nations estimated Thursday.
"Altogether, more than four million people are in a way or another affected," said Manuel Bessler, who heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan.
"What we are facing now is a major catastrophe," added the UN official who was speaking from Islamabad at a teleconference with journalists in Geneva.
Bessler also revised the death toll from the disaster to 1,600 from 1,500 previously, and added that this was only from the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
"Obviously the figures will go up," he said.
The UN official said that the "huge body of water from the north" was moving south and affecting the country's most populous provinces of Punjab and Sindh.
"We are only in the middle of the monsoon season, there is more rain expected. We are afraid it will get worse," added Bessler.
The flooding has also left behind a trail of destruction. With roads washed away and bridges destroyed, some areas are completely cut off.
"This of course slows down the operation, makes it complicated and lengthens it. That's the main explanation why we see frustration and anger that is absolutely understandable by the population who feel abandonned," said Bessler.
Only a fraction of the population has received aid.
According to the International Organization for Migration, which is coordinating the shelter relief response to the disaster, between 20,000 and 30,000 tents have been distributed.
"But the gap is enormous, the needs are great," said Brian Kelly, an IOM official in Pakistan.
© 2010 AFP