Saturday, December 4, 2010

Forgotten Pakistan flood victims face grim winter

Matt Wade in the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia): Underestimated from the start and then quickly forgotten. That is how aid workers have summed up the international reaction to the Pakistan floods, one of the worst natural disasters in modern times. More than four months after the emergency, more than 10 million are still receiving daily emergency assistance and nearly 7 million remain without adequate shelter.

The aid agency Save the Children has warned that freezing winter conditions in flood-affected areas pose a fresh risk to flood victims, especially children. ''This must not become a forgotten emergency, especially now as children could die due to cold-related illnesses like pneumonia,'' said Mike Penrose, Save the Children's director of emergency response.

''More children will die in the flood areas if they don't get the appropriate treatment in time. We are already seeing an increasing number of chest infection cases. The immediate need is to ensure people can keep warm and have proper shelter.''

The devastating monsoon flooding in July and August, which affected 21 million people, destroyed entire villages, wiped out 2 million hectares of crops and caused widespread damage to basic infrastructure. Large tracts of the southern Sindh province are still inundated and some communities remain surrounded by floodwaters.

Even before the floods hit, about 85,000 children died from pneumonia each year in Pakistan. This winter millions of children will be forced to live in the open, or in tents, with little or no access to healthcare, and this could fuel the spread of pneumonia respiratory disease. In mountainous parts of northern Pakistan, hard hit by flooding, temperatures are already falling below freezing….

The flooding on the Kabul and Indus Rivers, seen from space on August 5

No comments: