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Thursday, August 12, 2010 03:43:32 PM, Agencies
At least four million people will need food assistance across Pakistan over the next three months
About 12 million people have now been affected by Pakistan's worst floods in 80 years, disaster officials have said, raising previous estimates by three times. »
United Nations: The United Nations has launched an appeal for $459m to help the victims of devastating floods that have affected more than 14 million people across Pakistan.
The call from the UN's humanitarian agency on Wednesday came as food prices skyrocketed after huge areas of crops were destroyed by the waters.
"We have a huge task in front of us to deliver all that is required as soon as possible," John Holmes, the UN humanitarian chief, said at a meeting at UN headquarters.
According to UN figures, more than 1,600 have died and nearly 300,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.
"The death toll has so far been relatively low compared to other major natural disasters, but the numbers affected are extraordinarily high," Holmes warned.
"If we don't act fast enough, many more people could die of diseases and food shortages."
Holmes said the money sought represented the minimum needed for emergency assistance over the next three months and did not include anything for rebuilding infrastructure.
At least 1.4 million acres of crops were destroyed in Punjab, the breadbasket of Pakistan, according to the United Nations. Fields in the floodplains of the northwest have also been devastated as rivers have spilled over their banks.
An official in Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said maize, rice, sugarcane and vegetable crops were the most affected.
"I had 200 kilos of corn at my home which the flood took away with it," Dil Aram Khan, a farmer from Pirpai in Nowshera District, said.
"All of our wealth is destroyed along with our wheat."
At least four million people are expected to need food assistance across Pakistan for the next three months at a cost of nearly $100m.
Marcus Prior, the spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), said his organisation had received a "pretty decent response so far".
"We've had just over $13m committed and we have good indication that other donors are going to step in and help us out in a very significant way in the days ahead," he told Al Jazeera.
"The fact is that we have at least the food we need for the first month to feed those people who have been so badly affected ... But we need contributions to buy food locally here in Pakistan."
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