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'Wake up' call as Government doubles aid to €2m

THE Government has doubled its humanitarian aid to the 20 million people affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan.

A further €1.19m in funding is being pledged, bringing total Irish state aid to €2m.

Junior Overseas Aid Minister Peter Power announced the increase at last night's special meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York which was called to discuss the flood response.

He urged the international community to "wake up" to the scale of the disaster and treat it with the urgency it deserved.

The European Commission announced a further €30m in funding, bringing the total EU contribution to €70m.

The number of people in need of immediate assistance has risen to eight million, according to UN estimates. And it claimed that more than four million people had been left homeless -- double its previous estimate.

But the UN has only been able to reach a quarter of those in need of clean drinking water and food. Providing clean water alone is costing €1.5m a day.

At the UN Assembly sitting, Mr Power claimed that "Ireland's response has been among the swiftest and most effective to this humanitarian crisis. Our priority is to ensure that those in greatest need on the ground in Pakistan receive assistance as soon as possible.

"I urge other countries to do all they can to contribute to the international response."

UN member states were last night expected to adopt a resolution urging the international community to extend "full support and assistance" to Pakistan.

The Irish public has also donated more than €2.5m in response to emergency appeals. from charities.

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