The United Nations claims that massive flooding in Pakistan has become a bigger disaster than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. With 13.8 million people affected by the region's worst floods in 80 years, Pakistani and UN officials are appealing for relief efforts around the world.
Maurizo Giuliano, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told AFP that the 13.8 million people affected by the floods eclipsed that of the three million in the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, five million in the tsunami and three million in the Haiti earthquake.
While casualties in the Indian Ocean tsunami killed some 220,000 people throughout Southeast Asia, Pakistan's death toll is still estimated at 1,600. Officials have grimly explained that the scope of humanitarian disaster is measured by scope of the burden of survivors in need, not burying the dead.
"Millions of people have suffered and still there is more rain and further losses are feared. I appeal to the world to help us," said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
The prime minister added that the disaster would set Pakistan back years as the nation rebuilds.
Many nations have stepped up with tens of millions of dollars in aid. The United States has been employing Army resources in Afghanistan to delver relief supplies, but reports from the affected Swat Valley claims that it is Islamic charities with suspected links to extremist groups that have been conspicuous in relief operations.
The Swat Valley, by no coincidence, has been the scene of a major campaign against the Taliban insurgency in the last year, which has used the area as a haven for decades. Still, Pakistan's prime minister has asked the world not to politicize the region or the disaster.
Survivors are reportedly attacking government officials in many flooded areas, angry at President Asif Ali Zardari for touring Europe at the height of the crisis. This fear has caused the government to block two television stations, Geo and Ary, who have been outspokenly critical of the president's decision to travel to The United Kingdom and France to appeal for aid.
Regardless of the political situation, experts around the world agree that the cost to help the displaced and rebuild the region will require an unprecedented amount of aid.
UN special envoy Jean-Maurice Ripert told AFP, "The emergency phase will require hundreds of millions of dollars and the recovery and reconstruction part will require billions of dollars."