UN warns millions of children needs immediate lifesaving support as devastating floods put their lives at risk in Pakistan
PHOTO UNICEF Pakistan
By Mashal Khan
ISLAMABAD: The UN has warned that millions of children need immediate lifesaving support as their lives are at risk because of displacement in flood-hit areas of Pakistan.
So far 1,559 people have lost their lives including 551 children, according to the latest government figures.
“Each and every one of these deaths is a tragedy that could have been averted,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan in a statement.
“The sad reality is that without a massive increase in support, many more children will lose their lives,” he added.
Fadil recently visited the flood-hit areas and said “the situation for families is beyond bleak, and the stories I heard paint a desperate picture. All of us on the ground see malnourished children, battling diarrhoea and malaria, dengue fever, and many with painful skin conditions.
“A lot of the mothers are anaemic and malnourished themselves and have very low-weight babies. Mothers are exhausted or ill and are unable to breastfeed. Millions of families have been forced from their homes, now living with little more than rags to protect themselves from the scorching sun as temperatures in some areas pass 40 degrees Celsius,” he added.
According to UNICEF, around 16 million children have been impacted by these ‘super floods’ and at least 3.4 million girls and boys remain in need of immediate, lifesaving support.
“Many children will have already experienced shock and distress from having lost their loved ones, their homes and their cherished possessions. UNICEF is already providing psychosocial services to traumatized children and women. Children displaced in the floods told us that they are scared, and they are sad, but also that they are bored, left with little to occupy their days,” said the UNICEF representative.
The UNICEF has set up temporary learning spaces to help bring back a sense of normalcy in children’s lives, help them cope with trauma and help them resume learning.
“Girls and boys in Pakistan are paying the price for a climate disaster not of their making. As we respond to their urgent needs today, we must also begin looking at the months ahead and the need to rebuild the lives of these millions of vulnerable boys and girls - to ensure they are safe, healthy, well nourished, learning and preparing for their futures,” he added.
The destructive flood caused huge damage as currently, one-third of the country is underwater as the massive rains and melting glaciers have caused the country’s main Indus River to overflow, inundating vast swaths of plains, and farms.
Heavy rains and floods have also washed away 12,716 kilometers of roads, 374 bridges, and buildings across the South Asian nuclear country, which is already grappling with political and economic turmoil, according to NDMA.
The devastating flood affected over 33 million people in 81 districts across the country and most of them are living in difficult situations as the flood also damaged nearly two million houses.