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UN starts wheat aid to 500,000 Pakistani farmers

by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Oct 27, 2010
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said it had begun large-scale distribution of wheat seed in Pakistan to 500,000 farming families affected by catastrophic floods earlier this year.

The aid means the current planting season that ends in December will still take place, the FAO said in a statement, adding that it would also provide vegetable seeds and fertilizer and assist livestock farmers.

"Wheat is the main staple of the Pakistani diet so it is of vital importance that farmers receive seeds in time," said Luigi Damiani, a senior FAO official who is heading up the Rome-based organisation's efforts in Pakistan.

FAO said the aid would benefit a total of five million people, adding: "The food security of tens of millions of Pakistanis is at stake with the current planting season. The next harvest for wheat will not be until spring 2011."

FAO has so far received 67.44 million dollars (48.88 million euros) for its Pakistan aid plan out of a total funding requirement of 107 million dollars.

Some 2.4 million hectares (six million acres) of farmland were damaged by the floods, FAO said.

earlier related report
UN bodies urge Pakistan to prevent 'victimisation'
Geneva (AFP) Oct 27, 2010 - Three UN human rights bodies on Wednesday called on Pakistan to ensure that women, minorities and the disabled were spared "further victimisation" during the recovery from devastating floods.

"The floods have disproportionately affected them," they said in a joint statement.

"Members of minority communities, Afghan refugees, women, children and persons with disabilities, particularly those living in rural areas, were already among the most vulnerable in Pakistani society."

The statement called on Pakistanis authorities "to strengthen the human rights-based approach of their efforts, in order to prevent further victimization of the most vulnerable population."

In the flood hit north-western Khyber Pakhtunkwa province, scene of fighting between Islamist militants and government forces, women and especially girls have been denied access to basic health and education, according to the UN.

The Committee on children's rights, the Committee on the elimination of discrimination against Women, and the Committee on the rights of the disabled underlined that 85 percent of those displaced by the floods are women and children, including half a million pregnant women.

They suffer with the destruction of health centres and need protection from sexual and physical abuse, while women and girls need help to overcome "any constraints" they face in reaching aid and basic services "including cultural barriers," the UN rights bodies said.

Meanwhile, the disabled "are often a part of society that is kept invisible, even under normal circumstances and more so in times of emergency," they added, and need urgent relocation from flood hit areas.

At least seven million people are still without shelter in Pakistan nearly three months after catastrophic monsoon floods devastated huge swathes of the country, according to the United Nations.

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