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UN tells world to speed up response for flood-hit Pakistan

Monsoons have left at least 1,700 people dead and wiped out infrastructure
This is a locator map for Pakistan with its capital, Islamabad, and the Kashmir region. (AP Photo)

The United Nations on Wednesday appealed to the world to speed up its response to help 33 million people in flood-ravaged Pakistan, saying just 20% of a fundraising target has been met since its launch last week.

Monsoon deluges likely worsened by climate change battered the country for months, killing at least 1,700 people and wiping out infrastructure. The U.N. last week revised its flash appeal fivefold, from $160 million to $816 million, to reflect the magnitude of the disaster.

U.N. officials are concerned about health, nutrition, drinking water, shelter and food security for the vast swaths of the population who have lost their crops, homes and livestock.

U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harnies said pledges of more than $180 million have been received, but only $90 million has been confirmed with the U.N.

Harnies said the world body was responding with what it has but it is not enough and the world must speed up its response. The disaster displaced 7.9 million people and half a million are still living in tents and makeshift homes.

Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, told a press conference Wednesday that the country has become the world’s biggest climate catastrophe.

Rehman said 1,717 people died in the flooding and more than 12,000 were injured.

“Pakistan alone cannot accomplish the task to rehabilitate the affected population, it needs huge resources and quick action,” she said. “The World Bank estimated losses of $40 billion but more may be required.”

According to the U.N., the Pakistani government says the floods destroyed at least 4 million acres of farmland and, with large areas still underwater, new crops cannot be planted. The planting window is very short, from October until December, and farmers will need seeds and fertilizers immediately.

Nobel laureate Malala Yousufzai visited the flood-affected district of Dadu, in Sindh province on Wednesday. She met women and children in a camp and spoke to them about facing the tough situation with courage.

She arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday, her second visit to the country since being shot by militants in the northwestern city of Mingora for her outspoken views on girls education.

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