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German donors increase their response to appeals for aid for Pakistan flood victims

Aid agencies have seen an increase in donations to the Pakistani relief effort. To date, Germans have contributed at least two million euros, but much more is still needed.

Pakistani villagers jostle for relief food

Some six million people still need food, shelter, water and medicine

After a halting start, German public response to the Pakistani relief effort has begun to increase.

"In recent days, we've seen a huge growth in donations," Svenja Koch, spokeswoman for the German Red Cross (DRK), told news agency dpa. To date, the DRK has collected roughly one million euros ($1.3 million) in donations.

On Tuesday, the DRK dispatched a cargo plane to Islamabad, filled with tons of relief material, including tents, mosquito nets, blankets and tools.

"We cannot abandon the people in Pakistan," said Clemens Graf von Waldburg-Zeil, general secretary of the DRK, in Berlin.

UNICEF Germany has also reported private donations of around one million euros toward the disaster relief effort.

German aid agencies have been sending food and medicine to the flood-ravaged region, and recruiting nurses, midwives and doctors to help treat victims suffering from various flood-related diseases, including lung infections and cholera.

GTZ, the German technical aid organization, has also begun reconstruction of destroyed homes and drinking wells.

One third of the country flooded

A Pakistani mother carries her children through floodwater

Up to 3.5 million children could be at risk of disease

The Pakistani government estimates that some 20 million people have been affected by the weeks of flooding, which have swamped about a third of the country, an area roughly the size of Italy.

The United Nations has accused donor countries, in particular European nations currently making big cutbacks in public spending, of being somewhat slow in helping Pakistan. Although aid has begun to trickle in, aid agencies say it is too little and too slow in coming.

UNICEF, the UN's children program, warned Monday that up to 3.5 million children could be at risk of contracting deadly diseases as a result of contaminated water and insects.

"Many are now already malnourished and weak," said Martin Mogwanja, the director of UNICEF Pakistan.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for international donors to do more to help flood victims, with the UN special aid fund still around 75 percent short of meeting its aid target of 460 million euros.

On Tuesday, the World Bank announced it will provide Pakistan with $900 million in credit, in an effort to boost the country's economy during the crisis.

German aid

The German government has donated 15 million euros to the Pakistani government since the flooding began, but donations from the general public have until now remained low. Earlier this year, Germans gave roughly 200 million euros for the earthquake victims in Haiti in the two weeks following the disaster.

Flood water covers the land as far as the eye can see

A third of the country is under water

German politicians have tried to ease concerns that donations may not reach those that need them, and could end up in the hands of the Taliban.

"Obviously, Pakistan suffers from an image problem," said Ruprecht Polenz, a member of the Christian Democratic Party and chairman of the foreign affairs committee, in an interview with public broadcaster ARD.

Germany's Development Minister Dirk Niebel has said every effort is being made to ensure the aid money "does not fall into the wrong hands." In an interview with German public radio, he said Germany has been providing disaster relief and working with the UN World Food Program and state and non-governmental aid agencies for years.

Rudolf Seiters, president of the German Red Cross, was similarly reassuring. "We can guarantee, for both ourselves and the Red Crescent, that the donations are reaching the victims," he said.

The UN has said some six million people still need food, shelter, water and medicine, and has warned that the death toll, so far put at 1,600, could rise dramatically if more help is not provided soon.

Author: Martin Kuebler (apn/dpa/epd/Reuters)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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