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Minister urges UN to do more to help flood victims

JUNIOR Minister for Overseas Aid Peter Power will urge the international community today to provide more aid for Pakistan.

The flooding crisis has left 20 million people homeless.

The decision came as new figures showed the Irish public has donated more than €2.5m in response to emergency appeals from charities.

Concern has collected €1.5m, Trocaire has collected €839,210 and Goal said it expected its total to run to "hundreds of thousands" of euro. The figure has been hailed by aid agencies as a sign that the public are responding generously even in the midst of recession.

Mr Power will address the United Nations' general assembly in New York today, where UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is putting pressure on member states to increase their level of aid to Pakistan.

He said he would provide an update on Ireland's response to the flooding crisis -- which has seen €960,000 in state aid donated so far.

"The people of Ireland have dug deep to assist those caught up in this natural disaster. Despite the difficult economic times, it is a great tribute to Irish people that we still reach out to those in the greatest need," he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Power made it clear he would also be urging states to increase their level of aid.

"Minister Power is expected to appeal to all our partner governments represented to keep up the momentum on the humanitarian response to this disaster," she said.

Concern Worldwide overseas director Paul O'Brien said the agency was delighted with the €1.5m donated so far by the public.

"The Irish public are once again displaying their generous nature and their solidarity, even at this time of financial difficulty and need at home, with those less fortunate than themselves," he said.

Mr O'Brien said Concern was using the funding to target over 215,000 people with emergency relief assistance. But he warned it would take an enormous effort to meet the immediate needs of people in Pakistan due to the flooding's colossal impact.

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Goal said it had been overwhelmed with calls from the public in recent days.

"We are working with local non-governmental organisation HANDS to support the emergency evacuation of the displaced by road and boat and providing water and food to some of those most in need of assistance," a spokesman said.

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