Pakistan devastation unimaginable

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, 17 August 2010 — UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia Daniel Toole visited Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province this week to survey the devastation caused by the country’s severe flooding.

Mr. Toole also reviewed the organization’s support for hundreds of thousands of women and children in one of the worst-hit provinces of Pakistan.

‘Massive’ crisis

“The emergency here in Pakistan is massive, and the scale and scope have not been understood by the international community,” said Mr. Toole during his visit. “We need rapid, huge support. There are millions of people displaced … people need support to go back to their homes, they need support for good health.”

He added that, in collaboration with UN agencies, the provincial government has made an enormous effort to provide a lifeline for those most vulnerable — including children. But he also emphasized the need to reach out to those who have been isolated with the utmost speed.

UNICEF is one of several organizations that have been delivering much-needed relief in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa since the onset of the floods in late July. The crisis has killed at least 1,600 people and affected nearly 20 million people across Pakistan, according to government estimates.

Urgent appeal

UNICEF teams have been delivering safe drinking water, critical medical supplies, supplementary food and family hygiene kits to more than a million people a day. In addition, UNICEF is supporting mobile medical teams, vaccination campaigns and sanitation efforts across the affected zone.

But these efforts remain dwarfed by the scale of the tragedy.

“UNICEF needs the support of others,” said Mr. Toole, calling for the organization’s donors to contribute to relief efforts. The organization has released $7 million from its own internal funds to provide water to those living in displacement camps, he said, but more funds are urgently needed.

“We have an emergency with maybe 20 million people affected,” said Mr. Toole. “That’s a scale we have not dealt with in a very long time. We need massive resources to be able to respond, to provide health care and nutrition.”

UNICEFhas appealed for $47 million for urgent and immediate needs over the next three months, but so far the organization has only a received a fraction of this number in pledges.