Just two weeks after having been appointed as the new United Nations Special Envoy for Assistance to Pakistan, Rauf Engin Soysal is on the ground to assess the impact of the deadly floods, cautioning that the bulk of the rebuilding effort is still ahead.
“Seeing the devastation first-hand and speaking with flood-affected families confirmed the astonishing reality of a continuing emergency for millions of people,” he said in Sindh province.
“And even two months on, the world must not forget those in Pakistan still in need of urgent humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Soysal added.
He noted that he and his wife are in Pakistan to “assure the affected people of our strong feelings of solidarity. Their sorrow is our sorrow and their happiness is our happiness.”
Sindh remains one of the hardest-hit areas of the South Asian nation, with more than one million people uprooted by the flooding and 27,000 square kilometres of land under water. Some 1.1 million homes have been destroyed or damaged.
“It is clearly a serious challenge for all of us to access all the displaced given the vast scale of the disaster and the massive movement of flood-affected people,” Mr. Soysal noted. “We must do more to help these families return to their home districts and to rebuild – the heaviest workload is yet to be done.”
Waterborne diseases resulting from limited or poor access to safe water and sanitation are the biggest public health threats, with millions at risk of contracting deadly diseases through contaminated water and insects, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that malaria cases are on the rise.
In Dadu district in western Sindh, Mr. Soysal met with people forced to flee their homes when Manchar Lake burst its banks. He visited one family living in a temporary shelter and heard about their lack of food and sufficient access to clean water.
Together with the Pakistani Government, the UN and its partners have reached millions with life-saving assistance and are working to help many millions more affected by what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the worst such disaster that the world body has faced
Last month, the UN and other agencies launched their largest-ever natural disaster appeal, seeking more than $2 billion for Pakistani flood victims, more than quadrupling the original $460 million sought in August. The funds are intended to assist up to 14 million people over a 12-month period.