U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday the flooding in Pakistan was the worst disaster he had ever seen, and urged foreign donors to speed up assistance to some 20 million people affected.
Ban, who arrived in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and President Asif Ali Zardariheld talks before visiting some of the areas affected by floodwaters responsible for nearly 1,600 deaths.
"I will never forget the destruction and suffering I have witnessed today. In the past I have witnessed many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this.", he said.
The situation in some areas is threatening to spill over into violence, according to witnesses. An Associated Press correspondent in Sindh reported seeing survivors fighting over food, ripping at each other's clothes and causing such chaos that the distribution had to be abandoned.
The floods began more than two weeks ago and have hit about one-quarter of the country. Huge swaths of land remain under water, and hundreds more homes were flooded over the weekend.
So far, offers of international aid remain small compared with recent disasters elsewhere, to the dismay of Pakistan's leaders and aid agencies.The UN has appealed for an initial $460m to provide relief, but only 20% of that has so far been given. International donations in the wake of the Haiti earthquake earlier in the year totalled more than $2bn.
UN chief visits flood-stricken Pakistan as cholera concerns loom [CNN, August 15, 2010]
Pakistan floods: UN urges world to step up aid efforts [Guardian, August 15, 2010]
U.N. Chief: Pakistan Floods the Worst I've Seen [CBS, August 15, 2010]