'Pitiful' relief effort after flooding sparks protests in Pakistan

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


'Pitiful' relief efforts after floods spark protests

Deep frustration emerged Monday among victims and aid groups over the pace of flood relief in Pakistan.

In the southern province of Sindh, angry Pakistanis left homeless by the torrential rains this month took to the highway to protest the government's seeming inability to help them. U.N. officials pleaded with the world to send more money, saying that 3.5 million children could contract deadly waterborne diseases unless they have clean drinking water and basic health care.

The floods have affected 20 million people, destroyed nearly a million homes and ravaged billions of dollars worth of crops and infrastructure. Nearly a fifth of Pakistan was underwater.

Yet the global response has been slow. British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called it "absolutely pitiful."

The United Nations asked last week for $460 million in urgent assistance. About half of that has been given. The slow-motion nature of the disaster, which will soon enter its fourth week, and the relatively low death toll -- approximately 1,600 -- may be reasons. Another, analysts say, is donor fatigue after a string of global crises.

-- Griff Witte


U.S., South Korea launch joint military exercises

Amid threats from North Korea, a combined 86,000 U.S. and South Korean troops launched their latest round of joint military exercises Monday, described by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak as a deterrent against war.

The 11-day drills, unlike the muscle-flexing naval exercises held last month in the Sea of Japan, are based largely on computer-simulated war games and are being held in the southern part of the peninsula.

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