Up to 4 mln children in Pakistan still living next to stagnant, contaminated floodwater: UNICEF
UNICEF Representative said 27 thousand schools have been washed away during floods in Pakistan.
UNITED NATIONS (Web Desk) - Four million children are fighting for survival near contaminated and stagnant flood waters in Pakistan, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Tuesday.
While “the rains have ended…to a great degree, so has media attention,” UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, Abdullah Fadil, told reporters in Geneva, adding that with homes destroyed, children were facing a “bitter winter, without decent shelter”.
Deadly floods hit Pakistan last summer, and have now only partly receded. About 33 million people were affected in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, in what is widely regarded to have been Pakistan’s greatest climate disaster. Villages have reportedly been turned into islands, with many children orphaned and families living under scraps of plastic freezing conditions.
In flood-affected districts, around 1.6 million children were already suffering from severe acute malnutrition, while another six million children suffer from stunting, a condition which can cause irreversible damage to children’s brains, bodies, and immune systems.
“Post floods, this situation is expected to worsen exponentially,” warned Fadil.
“27 thousand schools have been washed away,” he said, but “UNICEF’s current appeal of $173 million is less than half funded”.
The total of $9 billion, pledged last week by international donors to help Pakistan recover from the catastrophe, was welcomed by Fadil, who emphasized that “children must be at the centre of recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts”.
The UNICEF spokesperson declared that real economic recovery and sustained growth could only be achieved if the necessary investments to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of children were made, and called for investment in building human capital and resiliency, particularly in rural Sindh and Balochistan where much of the devastation occurred.
“Pakistan is a known climate hotspot, and it is only a matter of time before another large-scale climate disaster strikes the country’s children,” he warned.
Earlier this month, UN chief Antonio Guterres reiterated the need to help developing countries such as Pakistan become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
The UN chief insisted that the international banking system needed radical reform in favour of developing countries, to “right a fundamental wrong”.
The UN development agency, UNDP, has warned that an additional nine million people are at risk of being pushed into poverty, on top of the 33 million affected by last summer’s devastating floods in Pakistan.