They’re calling it the largest natural disaster on record, destroying homes, land, crops and water supplies, and yet the coverage in the U.S. media has been relatively low-key. Sadly, now it looks like things will be getting even worse:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan issued new flood warnings on Thursday that could last into the weekend as government and relief agencies strained to confront the toll from a growing humanitarian disaster.
The new warnings to several cities in Punjab and Sindh Provinces added to the desperation of many across the country facing a daily struggle for survival as Muslims around the world began to observe the holy month of Ramadan.
[…] The United States Embassy in Islamabad announced that two Marine helicopters had arrived in the country, the first of a contingent of 19 American military helicopters that has been ordered to assist the Pakistani government in relief efforts. The United States has pledged $71 million for flood relief, and American officials have called for more.
“Americans have been very focused on other, equally heart-wrenching issues, like Haiti,” Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said Wednesday at the Council on Foreign Relations. “I hope they will turn their attention as well to this extraordinary crisis that Pakistan is facing.”
The aid deliveries could help the United States improve its image here and blunt a growing anti-American sentiment. The Taliban have already urged Pakistanis to shun American aid and have used the crisis to expand their influence and outreach in the flood-affected areas of the northwest.
The United Nations has estimated that at least one-fifth of the country is flooded, but the scope of the damage seems far greater. About 14 million people have been affected by the floods, and 6 million of them are children, according to Unicef. Estimates of the dead have ranged from 1,200 to 1,600.
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