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Pakistan: More funds and effort needed to stem spiraling crisis, says Oxfam

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Only a fraction of affected communities getting the aid they need as UN launches new humanitarian appeal for crisis

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The international community urgently needs to inject more funds and effort to stem a spiraling crisis in flood-hit Pakistan said international agency Oxfam. The call comes in advance of a new United Nations appeal for funds on Friday (17 September 2010).

Oxfam warns of growing hunger and disease as only a fraction of the people that need help have it. Water and sanitation, one of the most important areas for disease prevention, has received only 37 percent of the funds it needs, while almost four million of those who need food aid have yet to receive it.

The UN appeal is set to be at least trebled, and will include immediate needs, but also cover longer-term support required to help people re-build their lives. Oxfam called on all donors meeting in New York on Friday, to reach deep in their pockets, and provide the funds needed to boost the aid response, both now and for the future.

Jane Cocking, Oxfam's Humanitarian Director, visiting Pakistan, said:
"This is a crisis of a truly epic scale and it's far from over yet. If the people that need help do not receive it, then disease and hunger could spiral. We desperately need donors to step up to the plate and inject urgent funding.

"These people have lost so much, but they still could lose more. Even today, people are drinking dirty and contaminated water straight out of the Indus River."

According to UN reports, over 70 percent of the affected population lack access to safe drinking water, and more than 80 percent lack access to clean, functioning toilets. As a result, the number of reported cases of acute diarrhoea and skin diseases have more than trebled in the past three weeks, while the number of reported cases of acute respiratory infections have quadrupled.

The initial UN appeal for Pakistan stands at $460m. It is set be significantly boosted. Oxfam called on donors who had pledged funds to turn these into actual money. Some $300m has been pledged - but pledges do not buy clean water, food or shelter.

Cocking continued: "The international community won't have many chances to show solidarity with people caught up in Pakistan's floods. The UN appeal is one of them and they must seize on it to send a clear signal that they care about the millions affected by this disaster. In turn, aid agencies, must challenge themselves, and ensure they are doing their utmost to reach all the people that need it."

Oxfam is helping one million people, one of its biggest emergency responses worldwide. It currently has an assessment team in Hyderabad, south Sindh, with a view to scaling up there.

Cocking said: " Each day, we ask ourselves, are we doing enough? Could we do more? I'd urge all aid agencies to ask themselves the same questions.

"All of us need to be going at full throttle to have any chance of stemming this mounting crisis."

ENDS

The initial UN appeal was hastily prepared when the floods began and does not reflect current needs. Since it was launched the number of people affected by the floods has increased from 14 million to 21 million as the floodwaters have flowed south and inundated much of Punjab and Sindh provinces. The initial appeal only covers the needs of 6 million for the first 90 days. The new appeal will cover the needs of 10 million people for a year.

To learn more about Oxfam's response go HERE

To donate to Oxfam America please go HERE