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Pakistani PM Joins UN Plea For Help To Cope With 'Worst Ever' Floods As U.S. Sends $30 Million

People affected by flooding wait for relief in in Pakistan's Sindh Province on August 28.
People affected by flooding wait for relief in in Pakistan's Sindh Province on August 28.

The United Nations has issued a flash appeal for $160 million in emergency funding to help Pakistan cope with catastrophic floods that the country's leadership calls the worst in its history.

The flooding has killed more than 1,100 people and destroyed infrastructure and crops, and officials say as much as one-third of the country is underwater.

"Pakistan is awash in suffering," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a video message on August 30 for the launch of the appeal in Islamabad and Geneva.

"The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids -- the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding."

He said the scale of needs, with millions of people forced from their homes, schools and health facilities destroyed and livelihoods shattered by the climate catastrophe, required the world’s collective and prioritized attention.

In Pictures: Pakistan's Lethal Floods

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called the flooding "the worst in the history of Pakistan" and said "the damage to our infrastructure is vast and is spread all over" the country.

Authorities say they were using military planes, helicopters, trucks, and boats to evacuate stranded people and distributed relief goods among those affected.

The flooding, triggered by heavy monsoon rains since mid-June, has damaged 1 million houses and affected more than 33 million people.

Sharif repeated a call for international assistance to help Pakistanis in crisis.

"I want to give my solemn pledge and solemn commitment...[that] every penny will be spent in a very transparent fashion. Every penny will reach the needy," Sharif said.

Although rains stopped three days ago and floodwaters in some areas were receding, large areas remain submerged.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on August 30 that the United States was donating $30 million in additional funds to help Pakistan.

It said one of its disaster-management specialists had arrived in Islamabad and would prioritize urgently needed support for food, safe water, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, and shelter assistance.

According to initial government estimates, the devastation caused $10 billion in damage to the economy.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority, at least 498,000 people in the country of 220 million are in relief camps after being displaced.

Pakistan started receiving international aid this week, and more planes carrying aid from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates landed at an airport near Islamabad on August 30, according to a statement released by the military.

It said Chinese planes carrying aid will also arrive in Pakistan later in the day.

Pakistan has also deployed at least 6,500 soldiers to help authorities in rescue and relief operations.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa

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