Thousands homeless and millions reeling in Pakistan's Punjab province
MUZAFFARGARH DISTRICT, Pakistan, 30 August 2010 –Flood waters flowing south from northern Pakistan have devastated Punjab. Millions of people have been affected in 12 districts across the province, with thousands of homes destroyed and dozens reported dead to date.
These victims of nature's fury are struggling to cope with the trauma and agony of losing their homes and livelihoods. One mother, Shamim Bibi, walked through the flood waters with her children, finally reaching the camp. It was her worst nightmare come true, she said.
|Mother Shamim Bibi comments on the difficult challenges she and her family face in the displacement camp. UNCEF is helping children and families with food, water, sanitation, tented shelter, vitamins and medicine.|
"Things are difficult here," said Ms. Bibi, referring to the camp. "We get two square meals, but our children are unwell. They used to go to school and they are not happy here. We are all very worried."
Last week, during his own trip to Pakistan, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia Daniel Toole visited a relief camp for those affected by the floods in Muzaffargarh, one of the most devastated districts in southern Punjab.
|VIDEO: UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia Daniel Toole narrates his impressions while on a recent trip to Pakistan's worst-affected regions.|
Many of those displaced by the floods are living in makeshift camps set up by the Pakistani Government and Army. Mr. Toole visited the Chowk Sarwar Saheed Camp, one of some 30 camps in Muzaffargarh that are now home to thousands of families. There are reportedly another 17 spontaneous camps hosting an additional 50,000 people.
UNICEF officials have been touring the flood-affected areas, speaking with families to understand their needs and evaluate the situation on the ground.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake arrived in Pakistan today to tour flood-hit areas and see UNICEF operations to assist the millions of people affected by floods. Tomorrow, Mr. Lake and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Josette Sheeran, will visit flooded areas in Multan Division, Punjab province.
More help is desperately needed to assist families like Ms. Bibi's, said Mr. Toole. Funding shortfalls still threaten relief efforts across the affected zone.
"This area has been incredibly flooded," said Mr. Toole. "The government has responded well. UNICEF is making sure that children have water and vitamins, but we are struggling with the scale and scope of this tragedy."
To prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases, UNICEF is providing safe drinking water in the camp through water tankers and chlorination. The organization's implementing partners are also helping to construct new latrines in the camp.
Additionally, UNICEF has set up a 'child-friendly space' to provide education and recreational activities for children living in the camp.
Please help UNICEF provide life-saving assistance by making a donation. The Canadian government will match all individual donations to Pakistan flood relief between August 2 and September 14.