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Emergency aid 'not reaching' flood hit Pakistan

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 04 August 2010

Six days after severe floods hit northern Pakistan, Channel 4 News foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller finds aid is still not reaching many victims, including thousands of Afghan refugees whose camps have been swept away in the disaster.

Aid agencies hand out food to Pakistan flood victims

The floods devastated areas of northern Pakistan, with many districts still in desperate need of medicines and other vital supplies.

Villages in Upper Swat and Kashmir have been badly hit but Channel 4 News has discovered that emergency relief is still not reaching the area.

The UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is due to step up its appeal for money on Thursday to increase the aid effort but there has been criticism of Pakistan's president, Asif Zardari, who is continuing a visit to Europe while the country experiences its worst floods since its formation in 1940.

As more rain is forecast in the coming week, Mr Zardari is facing calls to return home to deal with the worsening situation.

However, the Pakistan government and army said personnel are to donate one day's salary to help the flood victims.

Latest official estimates put the number of deaths at 1,400 with an estimated three million others being affected by the waters.

Aid agencies on the ground say the situation is critical.

Zia Nawab, from the charity Action Aid, who is in Pakistan said: "People are desperately waiting for rescue and relief. The government's response cannot reach everyone, helicopters are flinging out food packages in hard-to-reach areas but it is not enough. 

"Access to most affected areas is difficult as roads and bridges have been damaged. With more heavy rain, rivers could burst their banks. The situation is now at tipping point."

Channel 4 News Foreign Affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller visited the village of Nowshera, about an hour-and-a-half's drive from Peshawar.

He said the north western provincial governor said the floods had "set back his province by more than 50 years".

"It's a real disaster that has unfolded up there. As the flood waters surge south it will coincide with the onset of yet more heavy monsoon rain. And as the crisis develops people are asking 'where is the government, where is the army?'"

"This anger, which we tasted a little of today, is really beginning to boil over. Hundreds of flood victims protested along the grand trunk route we travelled along to Nowshera today.

"In another incident, 2,000 protesters, including some burka clad women were protesting and just asking for help outside a local politician's house."

The forgotten victims of Nowshera
It's a pretty depressing scene and everywhere there is a sense of real anguish, anger at the government as well. Everybody knew that President Zardari is in the UK, writes Channel 4 News Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Miller who is in the village of Nowshera, just outside Peshawar.

They're angry that the army has not even been here to help and that no Pakistani aid has got to them apart from a handful of local people generous enough to make donations and provide them with some basic water and food.

The situation now is that a week after the flooding, there is a really small trickle of aid and really there are a lot of outlying areas we’ve heard of not only Upper Swat but in Kashmir too. In parts of these places, villages have been wiped away by landslides which have not yet been reached. I think there is an undiscovered catastrophe here that has yet to be reported.

To read Jonathan's complete blog, click here

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