Islamabad: The United Nations has said it will launch a multi-million dollar aid programme in Pakistan's southern Sindh province, where floods triggered by heavy rains have killed over 170 people and submerged hundreds of villages.

A total of 71,000 families needed food urgently and the campaign to help them will be launched on Sunday in flood-affected areas, said John Ging, Director of Coordination and Response with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"The assistance has been divided into four cluster sectors, including shelter, food, healthcare, water and sanitation," Ging said on Saturday after attending a meeting with officials of the Pakistan Disaster Management Authority in Karachi, the capital of Sindh.

A UN team is in Pakistan in response to a call by President Asif Ali Zardari for urgent humanitarian aid and the world body was very concerned at the loss of life and property and damage to infrastructure, he said.

"The UN team's presence will boost the morale of the government in efforts to help the rain-hit rural population," Ging said.

Other UN agencies, including UNICEF, will ensure the supply of one million medical kits.

"The UN and PDMA have worked out a strategy to utilize the stock of existing supplies which were not utilised last year," he said.

Sindh Chief Secretary Raja Mohammed Abbas said 172 people had died in the flood-affected areas.

A total of 70,000 tents and 180,000 bags of ration have been supplied to these areas and Rs 600 million had been released by the government to meet immediate financial needs, he said.

At least five million people in Sindh and Balochistan provinces have been affected by the monsoon rains.

About 900 villages have been submerged and some 100,000 homes have been destroyed.

The flooding has caused damage to crops, including cotton and onions.
Last year, about 2,000 people were killed and about 20 million people affected by the worst floods in Pakistan’s history.