Britain announces doubling of aid to flood-hit Pakistan

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Britain vowed on Thursday to double its emergency aid for flood-ravaged Pakistan to more than 64 million pounds (99 million dollars), an official told the UN General Assembly.

But British Development Secretary Andrew Mitchells made clear that London would only release the funds to partners who show they can actually provide the medicine, food, clean water and shelter the Pakistan people desperately need.

"I have come to New York directly from Pakistan, where I saw the dire need for more help," Mitchells told a special assembly session called to drum up support for increased global assistance to Pakistan's 20 million flood victims.

"It is deeply depressing that the international community is only now waking up to the true scale of this disaster," he said.

Mitchell said the doubling of British aid "should now provide water and sanitation to 500,000 people; shelter to 170,000 people; help meet the nutritional needs of 380,000 people and provide enough health services to cover a population of 2.4 million people."

The United Nations has described Pakistan's worst humanitarian crisis as one of the world's biggest disasters while survivors have slammed the government's slow response.

At least 1,500 people have died following three weeks of monsoon-fed floods.

Around six million survivors are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, and are in desperate need of food, shelter and clean drinking water, with concerns growing over potential outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.

The floods wiped out villages, farmland and infrastructure, and UN aid coordination body OCHA said more than 650,000 homeless families were still without basic shelter.

© 2010 AFP

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