ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is out of money to spend on recovery from recent devastating floods, its climate change minister said on Tuesday, urging prompt international help at the U.N. launch of an aid appeal as the funds the country needs were ramped up five-fold.
The United Nations revised up its humanitarian aid appeal for Pakistan five-fold to $816 million from $160 million, as a surge of water-borne diseases and fear of growing hunger pose new dangers after weeks of unprecedented flooding linked to climate warming.
"We have no space to give our economy any stimulus," the climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, told the conference in Geneva aimed at seeking aid for Pakistan.
She urged the developed world to accelerate funding for the ongoing domestic climate-linked disaster, which she said had no parallel in known history.
Over seven million people have been displaced from their homes, she said.
Pakistan's economic affairs minister Ayaz Sadiq told the gathering that it would take "years and years" for the country to rebuild and help rehabilitate millions of people whose homes were destroyed by the flooding.
The floods, caused by abnormal monsoon rains and glacial melt, have submerged huge swathes of the South Asian country and killed nearly 1,700 people, most of them women and children.
Hundreds of thousands of displaced people who are living in the open are being exposed to diseases like malaria, diarrhoea, dengue fever, severe skin and eyes infections, all of which are fast spreading amid stagnant floodwaters that officials say will take several months to recede.
URGENT NEED FOR MEDICINE
The deluge has impacted 33 million people out of a population of 220 million, and caused damage the government estimates at $30 billion as crops, roads, livestock, bridges, houses, schools, and medical facilities were washed away.
The government and the United Nations have blamed climate change for the disaster.
Julien Harneis, the U.N. resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan said the $816 million target for the appeal was "absolutely not enough".
"We need all of these funds and we need it quickly," he said, adding that only $90 million out of the $160 million previous UN appeal had so far been received.
Rehman said Pakistan was in urgent need of medicine for 8.2 million people and would need to import extra supplies of food as the country's export crops had been washed away.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, told the meeting Pakistan was "on the verge of a public health disaster".
(Reporting by Asif Shahzad, Writing by Tanvi Mehta; Editing by Robert Birsel and Bernadette Baum)