With torrential rains exacerbating Pakistani floods, UN ramps up food and health aid

People in Sindh and elsewhere in Pakistan face floods again. Photo: IRIN/Abdul Majeed Goraya

12 September 2011 – The United Nations is set to feed 500,000 flood victims in Pakistan and has pre-positioned medicines to cover 1.2 million people as torrential rains continue to exacerbate the crisis, reportedly killing nearly 200, displacing 220,000 others and affecting over 5 million more.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is moving rations to the Badin region in southern Sindh province for distributions early next week to half a million people, while the Government have provided over 512,000 food rations, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today, in a country still reeling from last year’s disastrous inundations, the worst in living memory.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has distributed 18 are emergency health kits, each covering 6,000 people with complete essential medical care drugs for a month, and 40 diarrhoea kits, each for 1,000 people a month. It has also provided other specialty drugs, such as skin medications and anti-venom and hygiene kits, and has a pre-positioned stock of medications to cover the needs of 1.2 million people.

Limited access to safe water and crowded and unsanitary conditions mean there is an increased risk of communicable diseases. Agencies working in water, sanitation and hygiene have contingency stock available to initiate aid for 100,000 individuals.

The disaster has reportedly destroyed or damaged nearly 1 million houses, and flooded 4.2 million acres of land. More rain and thundershowers are expected in Sindh, eastern Balochistan, Punjab and Kashmir.

With over 222,000 people displaced to camps and temporary settlements and many more communities vulnerable, shelter needs are large. Details of food needs will become clearer once a joint needs assessment team has finalized its findings.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners are delivering 3,400 tents starting tomorrow, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is currently bringing 17,000 shelter kits from a multi-donor stockpile to be distributed in priority districts, OCHA said.

The Pakistani Red Crescent Society and other organizations have provided over 85,000 tents to affected districts in Sindh.

Last year’s floods killed some 2,000 people and submerged about a fifth of the land, affecting 20 million people, as torrential rains sent swollen rivers cascading across the country from the mountainous north, inundating successive regions until they reached the sea.

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