By Marshall Ramsey
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (Worthy News)– Recent flooding in Pakistan has been called the worst in UN history, with the death toll reaching as high as 1,600 people, and millions more impacted by the devastation, Worthy News has learned.
Although this figure is less than 0.003 percent of the total loss of life than that of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake combined, estimates are that almost 14,000,000 people are affected by the floods.
As many as 600,000 people remain completely cut off from outside help as relief efforts are hampered by bad weather, with more rain in the forecast over the next few days.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani visited the Swat Valley region of flood-hit Pakistan, where Taliban fighting caused the evacuation of some 2,000,000 people from their homes.
"The magnitude of the tragedy is so immense that it is hard to assess," said Gilani during a visit to the central Pakistani city of Multan. "In fact, the government has done everything possible under its control," he said.
"Provincial governments, they are all doing their utmost. But it is [an] unprecedented flood, it is beyond imagination and it is beyond expectation."
AID AND RECOVERY EFFORTS
According to Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, shelter for the 13.8 million victims of the flood is the greatest and most urgent concern.
"We will need hundreds of thousands of tents," said Giuliano. "Therefore, we are working closely in support of the government trying to liase with donors, trying to liase with all U.N. agencies and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) so that we can figure out where we can get a lot of tents from or some other kind of shelter."
The United States of America is sending aid to affected areas, said President Obama's National Security Advisor, James Jones. This will include $35,000,000 in financial aid in addition to $7.5 million already designated for use in the affected areas.
Some of the survivors of the flood blame the government of Pakistan for the devastation, citing a complete lack of government help. Manzoor Ahmed, who escaped from destroyed homes and flooded villages in Sindh, said, "It would have been better if we had died in the floods as our current miserable life is much more painful."
"We were able to escape the flood waters, but hunger may kill us," said Hora Mai, 40, sitting on a rain-soaked road in Sukkur along with hundreds of other people.
Even though relief efforts are ongoing, any delay in reaching those in need may give the Taliban, a militant Muslim group also delivering aid to the northwestern flood regions, a chance to become entrenched in the region, making their removal much more difficult.