Flood affected-people in need of continued assistance: UN
ISLAMABAD, October 6, 2010: The United Nations refugee agency has cautioned that 11 weeks since the first floods struck Pakistan, large numbers of those affected are still in critical need of continued humanitarian assistance, including many needy people the agency was supporting even before the flood emergency.
In Sindh province in the south, flooding is still occurring, Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva, with almost a third of the region’s more than 30 million residents affected. About 1.6 million people in Sindh remain displaced.
Manchar Lake in Sindh, the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan, has overflowed in the past two weeks creating further displacement and new pressures on already overcrowded camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Edwards added that UNHCR had assisted some 192,800 flood-displaced people in Sindh with tents, plastic sheeting, and other relief items.
Most of UNHCR’s core populations of concern -- 1.7 million refugees and 1.1 million people displaced by conflict -- are in other regions of Pakistan, namely Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They too have been affected by the flooding and by the diversion of resources to the wider flood-affected population, according to Edwards.
UNHCR’s representative in Pakistan, Mengesha Kebede, stressed that that even before the floods hit the country, it was already facing a humanitarian crisis with 1.1 million people displaced by conflict and dependent on relief assistance.
Kebede underscored that Pakistan is also home to some 1.7 million Afghan refugees, the largest refugee population in the world.
Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef), said that over the course of September more schools reopened as families who had sought shelter in educational buildings returned to their villages where floodwaters had receded.
However, by the end of September, 2,800 schools were still serving as temporary shelters for over 660,000 people, around 85 per cent of them in Sindh. Almost 10,000 schools were damaged by the floods and thousands of children have been accommodated in other, already crowded buildings or temporary learning centres.
Ms. Mercado said education remained among the least-funded sectors in the over $2 billion Pakistan flood response plan, with only 9 per cent of the $81 million needed received so far.
Unicef has set up 460 of a planned 1,000 temporary learning centres and provided extensive emergency education supplies and furniture, she added. The agency is also using schools to provide basic life-saving information on hygiene and health care.