Flood damage hampering Pakistan relief efforts: UN

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The United Nations said Monday that key bridges and roads have been destroyed or washed away in Pakistan's flood-hit zones, where some 27,000 people are still waiting to be evacuated.

"Rescue remains a key priority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for 27,000 people who are still waiting to be evacuated from flooded areas," said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

However, relief workers were having difficulties reaching the affected areas.

A team of five UN officials who travelled to assess the situation in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday concluded that the "main issue is accessibility to the area due to destruction of roads and bridges."

The group led by the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Magwanja had to fly in through helicopter to Nowshera and Charsadda as there was "no road accessibility to the districts."

They also had to drop a planned visit to Swat and Shangla districts as weather conditions there were too adverse.

In Charsadda, where roads were closed over the weekend, the UN team found that the eight health facilities onsite have all been damaged.

It was therefore seeking tents to house these facilities, which urgently needed medicines as stocks have been destroyed by the floods.

Diarrhoea treatment kits were among items required as cases rise due to the contaminated water.

Needs were similiar in Nowshera where hospitals have been destroyed.

Access to the district's Jalozai camp with a population of over 100,000 displaced people was also cut off for three days after a main bridge linking the camp was destroyed.

"Other badly hit areas, including Lower and Upper Dir, remain largely inaccessible to humanitarian actors," said OCHA in its situation update.

OCHA assessed that an estimated 150,000 families across the province needed emergency assistance, such as food, clean water, tents and medical services.

It also warned that weather services have forecasted fresh rains which are due to affect the Sindh and Punjab districts.

An estimated 1.5 million people have been affected by Pakistan's worst floods in 80 years brought on by monsoon rains, which killed more than 1,200 people across the northwest.

© 2010 AFP

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