Pakistani PM Makes Plea for Rain-Battered Country

Posted September 10th, 2011 at 8:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has urged the Pakistani people to come together to help the nation recover from monsoon rains that have left more than 140 people dead and some 1.6 million hectares of land under water in southern parts of the country.

Mr. Gilani made his TV appeal late Saturday, after heavy rains pounded the country's largest city of Karachi, snarling traffic and sending several people to the hospital. He said the government hopes to set aside more than $80 million to help hard hit areas rebuild. But he also appealed to the international community for assistance.

Sindh is by far the worst affected province. The Pakistani government says 22 out of 23 districts of Sindh and some parts of neighboring Baluchistan province are covered in floodwaters.

The latest reports indicate that around 200,000 people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

The United Nations says that although the Pakistani government has responded swiftly to the floods, needs remain enormous. A U.N. press release issued Saturday said that, at the request of the government in Islamabad, the world body had launched a humanitarian response to the disaster.

Pakistan's Foreign Office says the country is in urgent need of tents, water purification equipment, food, medicine and pumps.

The government estimates that damage caused by this season's rains could run into billions of dollars.

Pakistan is still recovering from last year's devastating floods that killed more than 1,700 people and affected nearly 20 million others. Aid agencies say tens of thousands of families made homeless by last year's floods are still without proper housing.