Millions of Pakistani Children Still Need Humanitarian Assistance a Year After Historic Floods: Unicef

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THE United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) on Friday stressed that millions of Pakistani children continued to need humanitarian assistance even a year after historic floods devastated the country.

“One year after historic floods devastated Pakistan and a national state of emergency was declared, millions of children continue to need humanitarian assistance and access to essential services,” the press release said.

It stated that the recovery and rehabilitation efforts for the affected areas remained underfunded.

In its statement, Unicef mentioned that dozens of children had died in this year’s monsoon season, which it said had worsened the state of the flood-hit people.

“This season’s monsoon rains are worsening already challenging conditions for flood-affected communities, tragically claiming the lives of 87 children across the country,” it said.

The statement estimated that around eight million people, around half of whom are children, continue to live without access to safe water.

According to the statement, Unicef’s current appeal for funding remained only partially funded. “Over 1.5 million children require lifesaving nutrition interventions in flood-affected districts, while Unicef’s current appeal of US$173.5 million to provide life-saving support remains only 57 per cent funded,” it said.

“Vulnerable children living in flood-affected areas have endured a horrific year,” Abdullah Fadil, the Unicef Representative in Pakistan, was quoted as saying.

“They lost their loved ones, their homes and schools. As the monsoon rains return, the fear of another climate disaster looms large. Recovery efforts continue, but many remain unreached, and the children of Pakistan risk being forgotten.”

Unicef added that around 33 million people were affected and “vital infrastructure was damaged or destroyed — including 30,000 schools, 2,000 health facilities and 4,300 water systems”.

The disaster worsened the already existing inequities for the families living in the area, with children out of school, malnutrition and inaccessibility of safe drinking water, the press release said.

Unicef and partners have reached 3.6 million people with primary health care services; and enabled access to safe water for 1.7 million people in areas; reached over 545,000 children and caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support; and supported education for over 258,000 children, the statement said.

Unicef has screened 2.1 million children for severe acute malnutrition and admitted 172,000 children for lifesaving treatment, yet the needs continue to outstrip the resources required to respond, it added.

The UN organisation, while quoting Fadil, called on the government of Pakistan to invest in basic social services for the families.

“Unicef calls on the Government of Pakistan and partners to increase and sustain investment in basic social services for children and families,” he said according to the press release.

Fadil added that Pakistan should build back climate-resilient systems, reminding the stakeholders that we cannot forget about the children of this country.

“We must build back climate-resilient systems that bridge equity gaps and reduce vulnerability to climate shocks. We cannot forget the children of Pakistan. The flood waters have gone, but their troubles remain, in this climate-volatile region,” the press release quoted him as saying.

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Cover photo: On August 26, 2022, a man and a youth use a satellite dish to move children across a flooded area after heavy monsoon rainfalls in Jaffarabad District, Balochistan Province, Pakistan. — AFP file

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