UN warns of aid shortfall for Pakistan flood victims

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A shortfall in international aid is jeopardising key potable water, nutrition and vaccination programmes for more than a million Pakistani flood victims, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned Friday.

If significant assistance doesn't arrive by the year's end, "1.4 million people, around half of them children, will stop receiving clean water," said UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado.

The agency's programmes to fight malnutrition may also be halved without major, timely aid and some 11 million children will be left out of its measles vaccination campaign, Mercado said.

For millions of flood-hit Pakistanis, emergency aid "is a question of survival," particularly since the coming winter months will pose new challenges for already vulnerable families, she said.

Overall, UNICEF says it has received only about half, or nearly 134 million dollars (95 million euros) of the 251 million it says is needed.

The agency's appeal follows that of a United Nations spokeswoman in Pakistan who expressed alarm Wednesday over sluggish arrival of funds for its various operations.

Only 40 percent of a record UN appeal for nearly two billion dollars -- about 775 million dollars -- has been received to date, the latest UN statistics show.

Unprecedented monsoon rains triggered catastrophic flooding across Pakistan in July and August, ravaging an area roughly the size of England and affecting 21 million people in the poverty-stricken country's worst natural disaster.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank estimate the damage at 9.7 billion dollars and the Red Cross warned this week that millions of Pakistanis affected by the calamity will need humanitarian assistance for the next two years.

© 2010 AFP

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