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Millions of flood-hit Pakistanis still without shelter

flood boy PakistanISLAMABAD: More than 80 per cent of the millions of Pakistanis left homeless by the country’s worst floods are still without shelter, the International Organization for Migration said Friday.

The United Nations is to launch a fresh appeal for funds on Friday to help victims of the catastrophe which left some 10 million without shelter since the floods started nearly two months ago.

“We have probably reached something like 2.1 million people, that is only about 17 per cent or less than a fifth of the families that actually need emergency shelter,” said Chris Lom from the IOM which is taking part in the UN-led relief effort.

Briefing the reporters on the latest situation in the flood-hit areas, Lom said they only had enough funds to help at most 50 per cent of those in need of shelter.

“If we include the tents and plastic sheeting currently ordered by the 70 or so… agencies, we think that 17 per cent will probably rise to 50 per cent, so about half of the people who need emergency shelter will get it eventually.”

He said providing shelter for the other 50 per cent of affected people would depend on the response to the new UN appeal.

“Now beyond that 50 per cent coverage in next couple of months, we will be extremely depending on further funding, that is why we are waiting at this point to see what the international response will be to this new appeal,” he said.

Pakistan’s worst floods in history have affected up to 21 million people and left 10 million without shelter. More than eight million people are reliant on aid handouts just to survive.

The UN Family Planning Association said tens of thousands of the half million pregnant women affected by the floods could face complications to give birth.

“Some 1,700 out of total 500,000 pregnant women will go into labour every day,” said UNFPA representative Sara Raza Khan.

“250 out of these women might have a complicated labour and they would need emergency medical services, which means 15 per cent of total pregnant women need urgent medical care,” she said.

The United Nations is to launch a new appeal for funds in New York on Friday, although UN figures show that donors have met only about two-thirds of an initial appeal for 460 million dollars issued on August 11.

Visiting US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also voiced calls for more action to assist with relief and recovery efforts. – AFP

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