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UN reports improvements in flood-hit Pakistan but warns challenges remain

UN reports improvements in flood-hit Pakistan but warns challenges remain

The United Nations refugee agency, which has shipped thousands of relief supplies to areas in Pakistan devastated by floods in late June, today reported that conditions are improving there but serious challenges remain.

“As the water subsides, life is slowly returning to normal in the camps and families are starting to rebuild their mud houses,” said Jennifer Pagonis, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“But access to these areas is still difficult as the roads have been washed away,” she told reporters in Geneva.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 2.15 million people in more than 6,000 villages in Balochistan and Sindh provinces have been impacted by flooding and Cyclone Yemyin, while there have been 246 deaths and 186 people are missing.

UNHCR and its partners are stepping up relief efforts in the flood-affected areas of Pakistan that are hosting Afghan refugees, and expect that by the end of the week it will have transported more than 250 tons of emergency supplies from stocks in Peshawar to Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

Aid distribution started on 2 July in Balochistan’s Chagai district, where heavy rains destroyed houses and compound walls in three refugee camps. “Tents, plastic sheets, sleeping mats, quilts and kitchen sets were provided to the affected Afghans and their Pakistani host community,” Ms. Pagonis said. In all, 1,600 tents, over 3,000 plastic sheets, 5,000 sleeping mats and 3,000 jerry cans are being distributed in Balochistan, benefiting Afghans and Pakistanis alike.

UNHCR is requesting over $622,000 through the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to replenish and procure shelter items such as plastic sheets, sleeping mats and blankets for 150,000 flood victims, especially in refugee-hosting areas.

The efforts by UNHCR build on those of other agencies which have been assisting Pakistan.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has provided nearly 60 metric tons of food, while the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has supplied 60 metric tons of UNIMIX – food for vulnerable children, and lactating and pregnant women.

The Government and humanitarian partners are assessing the needs as well as damages in the areas impacted. As of yesterday, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reported that over 900 metric tons of supplies have been delivered via airplane and helicopter.

Authorities have established 70 relief camps in the Sindh town of Shahdadkot, and there are eight medical camps and 12 mobile medical teams operating in the area.

Meanwhile, the Balochistan Provincial Government has dispatched 162 staff in 72 medical camps, as well as 25 mobile teams.

According to OCHA, in Balochistan, electricity, water and communications have been severely disrupted in approximately 5,000 villages. Almost the entire population of 140,000 of Jhal Magsi district was forced to leave their homes, and efforts are being made to prioritize aid there despite its inaccessibility via road. There have been media reports that 30 villages in the district of Jafferabad have been submerged, with diarrhoea, gastroenteritis and skin diseases on the rise.

Meanwhile, OCHA said that the water is receding in Sindh, where over 16,000 houses have suffered damage, over 100,000 people have been displaced and hundreds of thousands of acres of land have been inundated.