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UNICEF: Underfunding for Pakistan flood emergency jeopardizing life-saving operations for children

ISLAMABAD/NEW YORK/GENEVA, 5 November 2010 - UNICEF said today that serious underfunding of its emergency operation in Pakistan is jeopardizing life-saving programs for children and families. If the funding level stays as it is – UNICEF has only received US$133.9 million of its US$251.1 million revised appeal – programs and staffing in child health, education, protection, water and sanitation and nutrition will be cut back. Emergency response hubs in Multan, Sukkur and Hyderabad will also be forced to significantly scale back in the coming months. Currently, the appeal is only 53 percent funded.

“The emergency is far from over. Flood waters remain in parts of Sindh, while elsewhere people are returning home to extensive damage to homes, livelihoods and services,” said UNICEF Pakistan Deputy Representative Karen Allen. “We still have much more work to do to save lives and protect the health, education and safety of children, but we are unable to do so without more funding,” Allen said.

Life-saving assistance and the recovery of damaged schools, health centres, and water and sanitation systems need to continue for the millions of families affected by the flooding. Despite the flood waters reaching Dadu district (Sindh province) several months ago, an estimated 50,000 people – half of whom are children – are still stranded in their villages on small tracts of land, surrounded by water and accessible only by boat or helicopter, and need immediate medical assistance and emergency relief items. Such relief efforts require further funding.

The task of rebuilding a country devastated by the worst flooding in decades – one fifth of the country was flooded and 20.3 million people affected – will last many months, if not years. Some 10,000 schools and 450 rural health centres were damaged by the floods and large scale damage was done to infrastructure, making distribution of supplies and reaching mobile populations a highly complex, costly and time-consuming operation.

In the meantime, millions of families still need emergency assistance in the form of water, medicines and nutritional supplements to survive the coming months. Especially critical are the needs of those living in the north of the country where harsh winter conditions and exposure to acute respiratory infections approach, while those living in the south face severe malnutrition, polio, diphtheria, malaria and dengue fever. UNICEF is prepositioning winter supplies in northern districts, some of which will be cut-off by winter snow, and has provided 400,000 treated bed nets – with 500,000 more in the pipeline – for southern regions.

“If no additional funding is forthcoming, UNICEF will not be able to complete its measles vaccination campaign for 26 million children. Only 7.9 million children were vaccinated in the initial phase of the campaign while an additional 7 million can still be reached with existing funds. This will leave 11 million children unvaccinated and at risk of contracting measles,” said Allen.

“Without additional funding after December 31, 1.4 million people – 700,000 children – will stop receiving clean drinking water and will start drinking contaminated water from the canals and residual flood water. This will greatly increase the risk of exposure to acute watery diarrhea and other waterborne diseases. We will also be left without the means to sustain the ‘lady health workers’, who prevent or refer cases of disease and malnutrition,” Allen added.

UNICEF still requires an additional US$117.2 million to respond to pressing emergency relief and early recovery needs in Pakistan.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For further information, please contact:
Kristen Elsby, UNICEF Pakistan, Islamabad,
Tel +92 300 500 2595,

Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Media, Geneva,
Tel + 41 79 756 7703,

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Media, New York,
Tel + 1 212 326-7426,




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