International aid agencies are struggling to bring relief to many of the 20 million people affected by the catastrophic floods that hit Pakistan about three weeks ago.
The relief effort is being hampered by logistical problems, including the ability to reach many of the victims. The United Nations has now received more than half of the $460 million appeal it issued last week to pay for humanitarian operations over the next three months. Fifty-four percent of the target goal has been reached according to U.N. humanitarian spokesman Maurizio Giuliano.
However, media reports say Pakistan is still having difficulty attracting funds because international donors fear the money will end up in the wrong hands, a charge vehemently denied by Pakistani officials.
Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Zamir Akram, says his government is working with International and United Nations agencies to bring relief to the Pakistani flood victims.
"So, unless somebody suspects the U.N. itself and suspects the government of Pakistan and its officials, I can guarantee that this money is going to go to the purposes it is meant for," he said.
"This is a very transparent exercise. The U.N., as I say, is deeply involved. Some of our close friends and partners are closely involved - the United States, China - many other countries, the United Kingdom. So, this is a joint effort and therefore the guarantee is that, it is a transparent effort and it is open to everybody to see," he added.
Ambassador Akram also refutes suggestions that the Taliban and other extremist religious groups are winning the hearts and minds of the people through their charitable work.
"I do not see how that has affected public opinion and built up support for them. I think this, what you are referring to, is an unnecessary exaggeration, which, unfortunately, is diverting attention away from the real issues. The real issue is helping the people," he said.
And, the needs are vast. Of the estimated 20 million people affected by the flooding, the government says more than 15 million are seriously affected. Around 1,600 people reportedly have been killed and more than 2,000 injured.
The United Nations says nearly 900,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed and more than 650,000 people are without basic shelter. It says more than 200 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed causing problems for people seeking medical assistance.
About 80 percent of the flood-affected population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. The United Nations reports more than 3.2 million hectares of standing crops have been damaged or lost.
As though things were not difficult enough, new flood warnings have been issued in some parts of Pakistan.