Pakistan PM cancels U.S. visit due to floods

Saturday, 17 September 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has cancelled a visit to the United States to attend the U.N. General Assembly session to direct relief efforts as floods devastate southern Pakistan, his office said on Friday.

Pakistani leaders were widely criticised for neglecting victims of floods last year that killed about 2,000 people and made 11 million homeless and again stand accused of moving too slowly.

“The prime minister has cancelled his visit because of the floods and now the foreign minister will represent Pakistan on the visit,” an official in Gilani’s office told Reuters.

“The prime minister will visit flood-affected areas from tomorrow and supervise relief efforts.”

The latest floods, triggered by monsoon rains, have killed more than 230 people, destroyed or damaged 1.2 million houses and flooded 4.5 million acres (1.8 million hectares) since late last month, officials and Western aid groups say.

More than 300,000 people have been moved to shelters. Some 800,000 families hit by last year’s floods are still homeless.

Aid groups have warned of a growing risk of fatal diseases.