Pakistan: UN launches response to help millions affected by monsoon floods

13 September, 2011
Children cook their daily meal in one of the 5,900 camps that sprung up across Pakistan in 2010 when the country was hit by the worst floods in its history. Nearly 20 million people were affected as flood waters swept across the country. Credit: UNICEF/Marta Ramoneda
Children cook their daily meal in one of the 5,900 camps that sprung up across Pakistan in 2010 when the country was hit by the worst floods in its history. Nearly 20 million people were affected as flood waters swept across the country. Credit: UNICEF/Marta Ramoneda

Torrential monsoon rains have pounded southern Pakistan, triggering serious flooding affecting more than five million people, among them communities still recovering from last year’s extraordinary floods.

The disaster has reportedly claimed the lives of 199 people, destroyed or damaged nearly one million houses, and flooded 4.2 million acres of land, prompting the Government of Pakistan to call for support from the United Nations.

The situation for those affected by recent monsoons and subsequent floods is critical. Thousands of people are in urgent need of assistance due to lack of food and safe drinking water, as well as the loss of livelihoods and homes.

Sindh is by far the worst affected province, with torrential rains in the hardest hit areas having led to rainfall exceeding, in a few days, what on average accumulates in an entire monsoon season. The Government reports 22 out of 23 districts of Sindh are covered in floodwater as well as some parts of Balochistan Province.

Seeing first hand today the devastation and vast amount of flood water in Sindh, now is a crucial time to stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan, and build on the lessons learned from the recent 2010 floods response to support the Government of Pakistan in their ongoing monsoon relief efforts, " said Timo Pakkala, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan, following a field visit. 

Scaling up the humanitarian response

Despite extensive relief efforts by the Government of Pakistan, needs remain huge. At the request of the Government, United Nations agencies have started to help those affected by the heavy rains and launched needs assessments. The most acute needs are expected in shelter, food security, water, sanitation hygiene and health. Furthermore, needs assessments and response strategies include nutrition, protection and early recovery including community restoration.

With over 222,000 people displaced in camps and temporary settlements, shelter needs are large. In response, the UN’s Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, and national NGO HANDS are delivering 3,400 tents starting 13 September. Additional shelter materials are being dispatched and the Government of Pakistan, the Pakistani Red Crescent Society and other organizations have to date provided over 85,000 tents to affected districts in Sindh.

People living in camps and temporary settlements along with other vulnerable communities will be in need of emergency food support. The World Food Programme (WFP) is therefore moving rations to Badin for distribution early next week. The Government and other departments have to date provided over 512,000 food rations to people in need. Emergency health care is also being provided to people affected by the crisis to help reduce the risk of communicable diseases.

In this rapidly evolving emergency,  the United Nations is committed to supporting flood affected communities and the Government’s relief efforts. Last year’s floods killed some 2,000 people and submerged about a fifth of the country’s land, affecting 20 million people in total.

More>> OCHA Situation Report #2  -  OCHA Press release

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