HYDERABAD, Pakistan — The world has given or pledged more than $800 million to help Pakistan cope with massive floods, the foreign minister said Sunday, as workers in the south used sandbags and stones to strengthen river levees in areas threatened by rising water.
Pakistan is grateful for the international assistance, which came after the United Nations appealed for $460 million in aid for the deluged country, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.
"The total commitments and pledges that Pakistan has got so far are $815.58 million," he told reporters in Islamabad. "In these circumstances, when the West and Europe and America are going through a recession … this kind of solidarity for Pakistan, I think, is very encouraging."
The floods began in late July in the northwest after exceptionally heavy monsoon rains, expanding rivers that have since swamped eastern Punjab province and Sindh province in the south. The deluge has affected about one-fifth of Pakistan's territory, straining the civilian government as it also struggles against al-Qaida and Taliban violence.
At least 6 million people have been made homeless and 20 million affected overall.
The United States has promised $150 million to help the country whose support it considers critical to winning the war in Afghanistan. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged nations to step up aid after a visit to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, three towns in the southern Sindh province's Thatta district were in danger over the weekend, and officials were evacuating thousands.
Workers placed sandbags and stones to strengthen river levees as the rising water threatened new areas Sunday.