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Obama approves funds to Pakistan as flood crisis escalates

By the CNN Wire Staff
Internally displaced Pakistani women wait for relief goods in Larkana on September 3. Relief efforts in flood-ravaged Pakistan are being stretched by the 'unprecedented scale' of the disaster.
Internally displaced Pakistani women wait for relief goods in Larkana on September 3. Relief efforts in flood-ravaged Pakistan are being stretched by the 'unprecedented scale' of the disaster.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Obama approves urgent emergency funds for Pakistan's flood victims
  • Nearly 1,700 people have died in disaster
  • Humanitarian crisis developing in Balochistan province

(CNN) -- President Obama issued a presidential order on Friday authorizing emergency funds to Pakistan's flood victims, the White House announced Friday.

The president said the use of the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund was in the United States' interest. Up to $33 million can go toward the country's crisis.

Pakistani disaster officials said Wednesday that recent floods have killed about 1,677 people and 17 million have been affected nationwide.

The United Nations, meanwhile, warned that a crisis is building in the eastern province of Balochistan, where nearly 2 million people are affected.

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Mengeshe Kebede, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' representative to Pakistan, said there is a "humanitarian tragedy" taking place in Balochistan, with imminent threats of water-borne diseases and food shortages.

"We need to scale up our activities in the province, or else I think we are heading for a major humanitarian disaster there," Kebede said.

"I have worked in humanitarian situations globally, and worked in refugee camps in Africa during emergencies, but to be honest I had never seen a situation as devastating as I saw in Balochistan," he said.

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