UN appeal for $460 million in Pakistan aid

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UN aid agencies and their partners have requested almost $460 million to help Pakistan assist millions of people affected by floods that killed hundreds of people and destroyed homes, farmland and major infrastructure.

"Unless aid activities continue to be rapidly scaled up to reach those who remain displaced and without immediate access to food and clean drinking water, additional loss of human lives and further suffering will occur," said UN emergency relief coordinator John Holmes in New York.

Victims, already short on food and water, should be beginning a month of fasting for the festive period of Ramadam but this is being overshadowed with concerns about the future of the agricultural industry following the floods.

Around 500,000 tonnes of wheat, and also sugar and cotton supplies have been destroyed by monsoon rains that have wrecked havoc across the country for the last two weeks.

Pakistan's UN ambassador warned that many had not yet grasped the scale of the disaster, which he described as "horrendous." Abdullah Hussain Haroon said the disaster would set Pakistan so far back that it would not even be able to start rebuilding infrastructure.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said at least six or seven million flood victims required immediate humanitarian assistance - including shelter, food, clean water, sanitation and medical care.

The government of Pakistan estimates that more than 14 million people have been affected by the emergency.

Haroon, however, warned that the final death toll could be much higher as entire villages had disappeared, "gone from the face of the Earth".

"We don't know how to count, so we stop the count," he said.

Meanwhile Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari continues to defend his decision to continue with his trips to Britain and France despite the chaos that is unfolding back in his country. The government has come under harsh criticism for what is perceived as a slow response to the disaster.

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