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UN doubles estimate of homeless from Pakistan floods

The United Nations has increased its estimate of the number of homeless from flooding in Pakistan as the European Union pledges more aid. The EU's aid commissioner is to visit the country next week.

Pakistanis chasing a truck delivering food aid in the south of the country on Tuesday August 17

Displaced flood victims chase a truck delivering food aid in southern Pakistan

The United Nations has doubled its estimate of the number of people that have been left homeless by floods in Pakistan, bringing the total to 4 million. This comes as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plans to meet with the UN General assembly Thursday in New York to discuss the international response to the floods.

At the meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to increase the amount of aid coming from the United States, which is currently at $90 million.

The German foreign ministry announced on Thursday that it would also increase its financial aid to Pakistan, upping its pledge from 15 to 25 million euros ($32 million).

A packet of German aid materials is prepared for shipment to Pakistan

Wulff called on Germans to send more aid to Pakistan

Meanwhile, German President Christian Wulff has called on German citizens to increase their contributions to flood relief funds.

"I believe in the willingness to help, the willingness to give that in Germany has always been very high," Wulff said on German ARD television, "[…] possibly because in our history Germans have often been helped."

EU increases commitment

The European Union pledged a further 30 million euros in emergency aid to flood-stricken Pakistan on Wednesday, bringing its total contribution to 70 million euros.

"We are facing a humanitarian disaster in Pakistan of massive proportions," European Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva told reporters in Brussels. "This is money for immediate humanitarian aid."

The bloc's executive, the European Commission, had been criticized for its inaction in providing relief to Pakistan. International aid group Oxfam said that Brussels was "not doing enough."

Georgieva hit back on Wednesday, saying the EU had acted to provide relief "from the very first day." The EU originally pledged 40 million euros in emergency aid.

The EU's International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva

Georgieva admits the EU needs to step up its disaster response

Flying to Pakistan

But the senior aid official also said she will present reform proposals in September as she looks to improve the bloc's crisis response in the future. French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested in a letter to the European Commission on Sunday that the EU should establish a rapid reaction force to deal with natural disasters.

Georgieva announced on Wednesday that she will travel to the affected areas of Pakistan to help co-ordinate relief efforts. The EU's aid commissioner will meet with local authorities, relief experts and flood victims from Monday.

Georgieva and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, have expressed their desire to hold an international donors conference aimed at setting up long-term assistance for Pakistan.

Around 2,000 people have been killed, and close to 20 million affected by the floods in Pakistan. The latest weather forecasts suggest that, after three weeks of torrential monsoon rainfall, authorities can finally expect a respite.

Author: Thomas Sheldrick, Matt Zuvela (AFP/dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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