UN Pakistan flood envoy warns of militant threat
The UN aid envoy to flood-stricken Pakistan warned Wednesday that armed militants could take advantage of the country's worst humanitarian disaster by operating among its displaced victims.
"We all hope that militants will not take advantage of the circumstances to score points" by exploiting people driven from their homes by the floods, Jean-Maurice Ripert, the United Nations' aid envoy for Pakistan, told Le Monde.
"The people's misery can always be exploited by those who have political or militant aims," the newspaper quoted him as saying, describing the floods as "the worst natural disaster the country has known."
His comment came in response to a question about reports that some local aid groups working for the victims in Pakistan had links to extremists.
"For us, the essential thing is to help the Pakistani authorities to work together, set priorities and implement them," Ripert said. "That is the best response to make to those who want to use the catastrophe for other purposes."
Halfway through the violent monsoon season, rain continued to pound the country. Pakistan issued fresh flood warnings on Wednesday and called on foreign donors to step up and help contain the disaster.
The UN World Food Programme said it was trying to get help to up to six million survivors at a cost of 150 million dollars (115 million euros). Ripert put the total number of people affected at 15 million.
© 2010 AFP