UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. says it’s making the largest disaster appeal ever, asking the world’s governments and humanitarian groups to raise a total of $2 billion for Pakistan’s flood victims.
Previously, the largest appeal for disaster relief was the $1.5 billion in aid for victims of the devastating January earthquake in Haiti.
The $2 billion appeal announced Friday by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon includes the nearly $500 million the U.N. initially asked countries and organizations to donate after the onset of massive flooding nearly two months ago.
Since then, the flooding has continued to spread, affecting more than 20 million people across a region of at least 62,000 square miles – an area larger than England.
The floods killed more than 1,700 people and damaged or destroyed nearly 1.9 million homes over the summer.
Ban said children and pregnant women have been left particularly vulnerable by the crisis. “Pakistan is not facing just one humanitarian crisis, but many,” Ban said. “All of this makes the Pakistan floods the worst disaster the United Nations has responded to in its 65-year history.”
Court releases separatist leader
WARSAW, Poland – A Polish court has ordered the release of a Chechen separatist leader pending a decision on whether he can be extradited to Russia.
The decision by a Warsaw regional court Friday evening came hours after Ahmad Zakayev – one of Russia’s most wanted men – was arrested in Poland on Russian charges of murder, kidnapping and terrorism during Chechnya’s separatist war in the 1990s.
Zakayev was in Warsaw to attend an international conference on Chechnya.
Conference organizer Adam Borowski said the court decision means Zakayev will stay in Poland until courts decided whether he can be extradited to Russia.
Zakayev, who was granted asylum in Britain years ago, says the accusations against him are made up.
Holloway’s mother saw van der Sloot
LIMA, Peru – The mother of Natalee Holloway entered a maximum-security Lima prison – apparently without registering as a visitor – and confronted the Dutchman who remains the lead suspect in her daughter’s 2005 disappearance in Aruba.
Beth Twitty entered Castro Castro prison Wednesday with a Dutch television news crew to talk with Joran van der Sloot, “but he refused, so there was no interview,” said Van der Sloot’s attorney, Maximo Altez.
Van der Sloot is charged with killing a woman in Peru on May 30, five years to the day after Holloway, then 18, disappeared while on a high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba.
In Peru, a spokesman for the national penal authority said Twitty’s name did not appear in the prison visitor registry.
U.S. law enforcement officials say van der Sloot extorted $10,000 from Twitty after offering to lead her lawyer, John Q. Kelly, to Holloway’s body in Aruba, then used the money to fly to Lima.