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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, on the flooding in Pakistan

2010-08-19

GENEVA /NEW YORK/ISLAMABAD, 20 August 2010 – “Mothers fleeing flooded homes with nothing but their babies clinging to their backs; people waving for help from the top of stranded buses as the waters rise around them; desperately thirsty children drinking from contaminated water sources.  The humanitarian tragedy in Pakistan has reached tragic proportions. But serious shortfalls in funding are limiting our ability to save lives as the crisis worsens. 

The scale of the disaster in Pakistan caused by heavy monsoon rains and floods is massive. One-fifth of the country is now underwater, and entire villages have been swept away.  Some 900,000 dwellings have been damaged or destroyed.  15.4 million people have been affected by the floods. 

The consequences of the flooding for Pakistan’s poorest and most vulnerable people are very serious.  And the most vulnerable of all, the children, are at the greatest risk.  Unless the world responds immediately, more and more of the 3.5 million children affected by the floods will be at risk of contracting deadly water-borne diseases like dysentery, diarrhea and cholera.

Together with our partners, UNICEF is currently supplying clean water to some 1.5 million people every day, and re-uniting separated children with their families.  We are working with WHO to ward off serious health threats by vaccinating thousands of children in receiving centres and camps, and we are working alongside WFP to distribute supplementary high energy food to children under five.

But these efforts are insufficient to meet even the current needs of millions of displaced families.  With floodwaters rising, evacuations continuing and more rains expected, the potential for even greater tragedy grows by the minute. 

The need for greatly increased support could not be more urgent.  Once the most pressing needs are met, significant and sustained support will help to rebuild schools, restore infrastructure and re-establish child protection measures.  But first, we must save lives.

UNICEF urges the global donor community to help us protect the children of Pakistan and to ensure that the floods which have destroyed their homes do not also destroy their futures.” 

ABOUT UNICEF
UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause.  UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.