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Crime adds to misery for Pakistan's flood victims

MEHMOOD KOT, Pakistan (Reuters) - Crime and the sale of donated aid supplies are undermining the aid effort for Pakistan’s flood victims.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial capital Peshawar, flour bags and tins of cooking oil bearing the logos of international aid agencies like the World Food Prgramme and USAID are openly on sale.

“We bought them from the victims,” said shopkeeper Abdul Ghafoor, who owns a shop in Peshawar’s Gur Mandi. “They get money and buy something else which they need more.”

“It cannot happen without officials’ involvement,” said another shopkeeper, Rahimullah Khan. “Victims cannot bring a truck full of supplies here.”

One Reuters reporter saw flour being unloaded in a market from a truck labeled “Relief Goods for Flood Affected People, from Muslim Charity UK”.

The goods are then sold at cheaper prices than usual.

“I can save 300 Pakistani rupees per 50 kg bag of flour. A customer prefers to buy it because it’s better quality and a lower price,” said flour dealer Najeeb Ahmed Khan.

Government officials are attempting to tackle the situation.

District authorities have raided and sealed two warehouses where stolen aid supplies were found, and made two arrests.

“We have formed a committee to check these illegal activities, but it’s sad it’s happening,” said district government official Siraj Ahmed.

Further south in Punjab, villagers say people living outside flood-affected areas have stolen from houses abandoned by flood victims.

Rana Farmanullah, a 27-year-old villager in Mehmood Kot, said robbers arrived on boats to loot the villagers’ belongings.

“They took away everything,” he said. “They were taking valuables and electrical equipment. They stole washing machines, standing fans, refrigerators, small electrical devices, and jewelry.”

To the north-east, in the town of Bhakkar on the banks of a swollen Indus River, fisherman said they were removing valuable components from boat engines, worried they could be stolen.

Additional reporting by Aizaz Mohmand in Peshawar and Kamran Haider in Mehmood Kot; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Myra MacDonald.