British charities launch Pakistan floods appeal

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British charities launched an appeal Thursday to raise money for flood-hit Pakistan as the country's President Asif Ali Zardari resisted pressure to cut short his visit to Britain and return home.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is broadcasting a series of TV and radio appeals in Britain asking for donations after the severe floods in Pakistan.

Zardari, who arrived in Britain on Tuesday, was due to wrap up his visit after addressing supporters in Britain's Pakistani community at a rally in Birmingham, central England.

The president is expected to appear alongside his 21-year-old son Bilawal, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Pakistan has suffered the worst floods in 80 years which have so far killed up to 1,600 people and affected some four million in northwest and central parts of the country.

"In the aftermath of the floods, there is a serious risk to survivors from potentially deadly diseases which will spread as a result of contaminated surface and drinking water," said a DEC spokesperson.

The DEC is an umbrella organisation that unites aid efforts of 13 British humanitarian agencies in times of overseas disasters such as earthquakes, floods and famine.

The British and Pakistani national cricket teams, who were to face each other in a Test match in Birmingham from Friday, added their support to the DEC's Pakistan flood campaign.

Salman Butt, the Pakistan cricket team captain, said the floods had affected family and friends of members of the Pakistan team currently in Britain.

"Please give generously and support the DEC Appeal to help those whose lives have been washed away," he said.

England cricket team captain Andrew Strauss added: "Though we want to win the second Test match on Friday, our thoughts are with the Pakistani team and the millions of people devastated by the floods."

© 2010 AFP

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