Pakistan has accepted a "very welcome" offer of financial aid for flood victims from its neighbour and perennial rival India, a donation indicating improving relations between the regional powers despite the relatively modest sum involved. The $5m (£3.2m) donation was made as "a goodwill offer for solidarity", a spokesman for India's foreign ministry said. Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, told Indian television that his government was happy to take the money. "I think this initiative of India is a very welcome initiative," he said from New York, where he is attending a special UN assembly on the floods, which have spread across a fifth of the nation. At least 8 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. The move came a day after India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, spoke to his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani, to express his condolences. India had previously faced criticism for not joining in the international efforts to help its neighbour. The two countries have experienced turbulent relations since partition in 1947, fighting two wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Relations plummeted anew in 2008 when Islamist militants who, according to India, were assisted by Pakistan's security services, undertook a bloody terrorist raid on Mumbai. While offers of aid are continuing to arrive from around the world – the UK has now pledged almost £65m in direct assistance – relief agencies warn that rapid action is needed. The UN's World Food Programme has called for more helicopters to deliver aid to remote areas, saying it currently had the use of just 10. The need is all the more urgent amid increasing fears of major outbreaks of disease. "With over 38,000 reported cases of acute diarrhoea already and at least one confirmed cholera death, the spectre of major cholera outbreaks is real," Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta of the women and child health division at Aga Khan University in Karachi wrote in the Lancet medical journal.