UNICEF's life-saving operation in jeopardy due to funding shortfall
ISLAMABAD/KUALA LUMPUR, 17 August 2010 - Serious funding shortfalls, warned the UN children's agency, are jeopardising its humanitarian operation in Pakistan, as the worst natural disaster in living memory continues to unfold in the country.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is extremely concerned at the lack of funds for its water and sanitation operation, with millions of children at risk from water-borne diseases.
"Providing clean water and adequate sanitation is key to the survival of millions of flood affected people in Pakistan. In terms of numbers of people needing life-saving assistance, this emergency is bigger than the Tsunami, Haiti, and the last Pakistan earthquake put together,” said UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Martin Mogwanja.
Poorest of the poor hardest hit
UNICEF is currently providing enough clean water for 1.3 million people every day, but millions more need the same services.
The Government of Pakistan estimates 20 million people overall have been hit by the flood crises, and according to the United Nations, at least 15 million people have been seriously affected, half of whom are children.
UNICEF is concerned that the floods have hit "the poorest of the poor", those least able to survive the present harsh conditions.
Millions in need of aid
The top concerns are water-borne diseases, acute respiratory infections, skin diseases and malnutrition rates, already dangerously high in many flood-affected regions of Pakistan.
Polio is endemic and measles still a threat, cautioned UNICEF, which, together with WHO and Government, is carrying out polio and measles vaccinations at relief centres. UNICEF is also supplying oral rehydration solution, a home based treatment for diarrheoa, but notes that this treatment is also in short supply due to funding constraints.
"We urgently need to scale up the distribution of water. If we are not able to do so because of lack of funding, water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrheoa and dysentery will spread and begin killing affected populations, especially children, already weak and vulnerable to disease and malnutrition," added Mr. Mogwanja...............................................................................................
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Video: Pakistan Floods
6 August 2010:
Women and children need life-saving aid
Newsline: Pakistan Floods