The United Nations humanitarian chief today visited the flood-ravaged area of Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh to review relief efforts among people still suffering from the effects of the deluge that cut a swathe across the country four months ago following torrential rainfall.
“Everything I saw and heard today confirmed that this disaster is far from over,” said Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, on the second day of her four-day visit to Pakistan.
Millions of people in Pakistan are still living without basic necessities after their homes and sources of livelihood were washed away or damaged by the floods that swamped the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan along the Indus River basin following heavy monsoon rains that began in July.
“A lot has been done, but there is much more to do,” said Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. “Four months on, there are still long lines of tents along dykes and dams. Even the strongest are growing weary. It is critical that we continue to assist the people of Pakistan during this devastating emergency.”
Out of an estimated 18 million people affected by the floods, close to 7.2 million are in Sindh.
Ongoing relief efforts have made it possible for more than two million people in Sindh to have access to safe water, and more than 4.3 million others have received food assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
High levels of malnutrition and a risk of an outbreak of disease, however, remain a concern, with children and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. Large areas of Sindh remain under water, with nearly half a million homes destroyed and one million people displaced.
In Sehwan district, Ms. Amos met families who are still living in camps. They spoke of their difficulties and their desire to return home to begin the process of rebuilding their lives.
She also met representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies and local government officials in Sehwan to discuss the continuing challenges in the relief effort.
“People are worried about the future – for many of them even when the waters recede, they will have nothing to go back to,” said Ms. Amos.
Last month, the UN and its partners delivered food to six million people. In total, more than 4.3 million people have access to safe drinking water on a daily basis, emergency shelter materials have been distributed to 4.7 million people, and more than seven million people have benefited from health care.