x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Aid plea to support millions uprooted in Pakistan's floods

The Pakistani government and aid agencies are seeking help for over five million people who have been displaced by recent flooding in the country's south.

Pakistani villagers take refuge on a roadside after fleeing their homes in Badin, 200 kilometres from Karachi.
Pakistani villagers take refuge on a roadside after fleeing their homes in Badin, 200 kilometres from Karachi.

DUBAI // The Pakistani government and aid agencies are seeking help to raise money for more than five million people displaced by monsoon floods in the south of the country.

At least 200 have died in Sindh province as Pakistan was still recovering from the destruction caused by the floods a year ago. The United Nations says aid must reach those who have survived the latest floods much sooner.

"It is a serious situation and we need the support of the Pakistani community in the UAE to help efforts back home," said Jamil Ahmed Khan, Pakistan's ambassador to the UAE in Abu Dhabi.

"The floods from last week have so far affected 22 out of 23 districts in Sindh."

The Pakistani government has committed about 2 billion Pakistani rupees (Dh83.9 million) for immediate flood relief, but more help is needed. "About 4.1 million acres of land have been flooded, which in turn has destroyed 2.5 million acres of crops, and that has displaced five million people."

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), 2.5 million children have been affected by the floods. Many of them were still recovering with their families from last summer's flooding, the worst in the country's history.

The latest floods have exacerbated already widespread chronic malnutrition and poor sanitation. Progress in education, child welfare and nutrition since last year's floods has been disrupted.

Almost a million homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving many people stranded on roadsides. More than 200,000 are staying in 1,400 makeshift relief camps in government schools, buildings and tents, according to Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority.

"Children are the most vulnerable in any emergency - in this disaster, many are experiencing the devastating effects of a flood emergency for the second time in a year. Their coping mechanisms were already weak and their vulnerabilities high," said the Unicef Pakistan representative, Dan Rohrmann. "We are witnessing vast devastation across huge swathes of Sindh province."

Munir Mahmood, the chairman of the Pakistan professional wing of the Pakistan Association of Dubai (PAD), said fund-raisers here were awaiting approval from authorities.

"We want to raise a handsome amount of money and will be working with the Red Crescent," Mr Mahmood said. "We also plan to meet with the consul general and look at ways in which we can help those affected by the problems. We don't want to set a target on how much we want to raise but we want to get as much as possible."

Mr Rohrmann said it was critical to reach children with aid as quickly as possible.

"There are immediate needs to reach children with clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene messages, and to provide additional health services to prevent disease outbreaks," he said.

The first convoy of lorries carrying food from the UN World Food Programme arrived in the Badin district of Sindh on Sunday.

Initially 500,000 of the most affected people will receive a month's supply of food.

nhanif@thenational.ae

* To support Unicef's efforts in Pakistan, contact the charity at 04 3600778.