UN refugee agency rushes aid to Pakistan

·2-min read

The United Nations refugee agency has rushed in more desperately needed aid to flood-stricken Pakistan as the nation's prime minister travelled to the south where rising waters of Lake Manchar pose a new threat.

Two UNHCR planes touched down on Tuesday in the southern port city of Karachi and two more were expected later in the day. A third plane, with aid from Turkmenistan also landed in Karachi. While the floods in recent weeks have touched much of Pakistan, the southern Sindh province, where Karachi is the capital, has been the most affected.

More than 1300 people have been killed and millions have lost their homes in flooding caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan this year that many experts have blamed on climate change.

In response to the unfolding disaster, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week called on the world to stop "sleepwalking" through the crisis. He plans to visit flood-hit areas on September 9.

On Sunday, engineers cut into an embankment in the sides of Lake Manchar to release rising floodwater to save the city of Sehwan and several nearby villages from possible destruction by flooding waters, which have damaged 1.6 million houses since mid-June.

Floods have affected more than 3.3 million in this Islamic nation of 220 million and the devastation has caused $US10 billion ($A15 billion) in damage, according to government estimates. The majority of people killed were women and children.

Last week, the United States announced $US30 million ($A44 million) in aid for Pakistani flood victims. On Monday, two members of Congress met with Pakistani officials and visited some of the stricken areas, the government said.

Flood waters were receding in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces, but the situation was alarming across Sindh province. Hundreds were leaving the district of Jaffarabad after their homes were flooded.

More than 420,000 Afghan refugees are estimated to be in the worst-affected areas in Pakistan, living side by side with their host communities.

Planes carrying aid from other countries are also expected in response to an appeal from Sharif, who has appealed to the international community to help Pakistan.

With the two UNHCR planes, 38 planes have brought in aid from countries including China, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.