Urgent need for aid continues in Pakistan in wake of devastating floods
By Jiun Kwon
NEW YORK, USA, 14 December - “All these houses have drowned. We are getting no help here,” said 9-year-old Saeen Bukhsh in September, after torrential monsoon rains and flooding destroyed his home in Farooqabad, Pakistan. “We don’t even have anything to put on the ground and sit.”
When the flood first hit four months ago, his family took refuge in a temporary shelter. His small village, engulfed in waist-deep water, was visible in the distance.
For many, it was the second such crisis in two years: Just a year after the flooding that overwhelmed the country in September 2010, the monsoon rains struck once more, sending hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
Saeen’s was just one of many internally displaced families forced to leave, after accumulating flood waters destroyed their homes. “We put mud around our house to prevent water from coming in,” he said. “But it still did.”
Yet even though the initial emergency has passed, conditions remain stark for millions.
Crisis continuesFarooqabad is located in the district of Mirpurkhas, one of the worst-hit districts in Sindh Province. Some 4.8 million people in the province are still affected by the flooding. But with certain areas remaining difficult to access due to standing water and mud, aid remains slow.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a large proportion of flooded areas remain under water. Risk of diseases and poor hygiene and adequate sanitation continue to be serious concerns. Water and vector-borne infections have increased in severely affected areas, where health facilities are still damaged from the floods.
Education is also a concern, with over 733,000 children forced out of damaged schools. And though the number of shelter camps is decreasing, many families are returning home to find little or nothing left to salvage, and their livelihoods destroyed.
A need for fundingUNICEF is working to bring relief to those affected by this disaster, providing medical assistance, food and temporary shelters.
But funding gaps remain a major hurdle, and the most immediate concern. Of the total US$50.3 million required in the Rapid Response Plan to provide aid to women and children between September 2011 and March 2012, only US$18.4 million has been received. Without the necessary funds to support the relief, it will take longer and longer for families like Saeen’s to rebuild.
“What can we do if it rains,” he said, wiping tears from his face. “It is God’s will – it is God’s will.”