Eight million may still be exposed to Pakistan floodwaters: UN

Pakistan experienced record flooding this summer after heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers submerged a third of the country.

Islamabad, Pakistan – A United Nations report on Pakistan’s devastating floods says more than 240,000 people in the southern province of Sindh remain displaced, while satellite imagery indicates some eight million “are still potentially exposed to flooding or live nearby.” of flooded areas.

According to the status report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), released on Tuesday, at least 12 districts continue to report standing water, 10 of which are in Sindh and two in Balochistan.

Pakistan witnessed catastrophic flooding this summer after heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers submerged a third of the country, killing more than 1,700 and affecting a total of 33 million people.

Homes, roads, bridges, and rail networks were washed away, with the government estimating the total damage at more than $30 billion.

The UN report says that while declining water has allowed millions to return to their homes, they continue to face severe shortages of essential items such as food and medicine. It adds that the regions affected by the floods are now facing health-related challenges, although the numbers show a downward trend.

Citing data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN report says malaria cases have decreased by 25 percent in Balochistan, 58 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 67 percent in Sindh since the beginning. of September.

The report added that a large number of malaria and cholera cases are still being reported in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, highlighting “underlying vulnerabilities” in those regions.

The UN report further said that more than 600,000 children in Pakistan have not received a single polio vaccination due to lack of access to flood-ravaged areas. Pakistan remains one of only two countries in the world, along with Afghanistan, that has not yet declared itself free of polio.

The report also highlighted the food security situation in Pakistan. Citing figures from the World Food Program (WFP), another UN agency, he said the most food insecure population was in Sindh (3.9 million) and Balochistan (1.6 million).

“Evidence from available data indicates that the relief response to date has fallen well short of the need, with more than 5.1 million people now experiencing IPC 4 conditions in flood-affected areas,” it said. , adding that an additional 1.1 million could fall into the same category by early 2023.

The IPC acute food insecurity classification differentiates between different levels of food insecurity, with phase four denoting an emergency and phase five a catastrophe or famine.

Farida Shaheed, a former OCHA special rapporteur and rights-based development expert, told Al Jazeera that the government’s emergency response after this year’s floods lacks a long-term focus.

“The scale of the devastation is massive. It is not something that can be fixed in months or in a year. People have lost their homes, their crops, their livestock, their livelihoods. I have not seen anything from the government that is being done with a long-term approach,” he said.

“The perennial problems were piling up and now they are all here. The devastation due to flooding is well beyond reach, but it was a long time coming. Our development policies were not effective and now we can see the results”.

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