Humanitarian Coalition warns: Survivors of Pakistan’s floods face new threats

Six months after catastrophic flooding forced millions of Pakistanis to flee their homes in search of higher ground, HUMANITARIAN COALITON members are warning that winter temperatures have introduced new threats to already vulnerable flood survivors.

February 8, 2011

"The number of women, men and children who are malnourished has reached alarming levels," said Robert Fox, Oxfam Canada Executive Director. "For them, this emergency is far from over. Given the immense scale of this disaster we have only scratched the surface of human need."

Hundreds of thousands of people remain in camps or are living in tents beside their destroyed homes. In the south of the country, swathes of land remain under contaminated water. Elsewhere, crops have failed, and food prices are on the rise, causing an increase in already troubling pre-flood malnutrition rates.

Still, Pakistan’s ongoing crisis remains under-reported and under-funded by the international community.

Only 56 per cent of the UN's $2 billion funding appeal has been met by international donors. Canadians donated $47 million to help the 20 million Pakistanis forced from their homes by the floods, a fraction of $220 million they donated to help the three million Haitians affected by the 2010 earthquake. 

Although rebuilding is underway, basic services and adequate shelter remain out of reach for many. Sub-zero winter temperatures have increased the incidence of respiratory infections, including influenza and pneumonia, with more than 200,000 cases reported in the second week of January alone.  Pneumonia is the leading cause of death for children in Pakistan under the age of five and freezing conditions are expected to fuel the spread of disease.

"More children are going to die in the flood-affected areas if they don't get appropriate treatment in time. We need to help people identify respiratory illness in infants and children early, and make sure that medical care is accessible," said Mohammed Qazilbash, Save the Children's spokesperson in Pakistan.

Members of the HUMANITARIAN COALITION have shifted from emergency aid to long-term projects, distributing kits containing blankets, sweaters and quilts, continuing cash-for-work programs and expanding construction of recovery shelters.

"Millions of people who lived on the edge of survival before the floods must now somehow rebuild their livelihoods and communities. The generosity of Canadians has saved lives in Pakistan", said Kevin McCort, President & CEO of CARE Canada “But, much more support is needed to rebuild following the biggest emergency of recent times. We must not forget these people and that their lives and futures remain at risk.”

Together the members of the HUMANITARIAN COALITION -- CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec and Save the Children Canada -- have reached more than 2.5 million people with a broad range of relief and reconstruction activities.

To ensure the needs of the most vulnerable flood-affected people are met, the members of the HUMANITARIAN COALITION continue to advocate for an effective and comprehensive humanitarian response from the Government of Pakistan and the international community.

Member agencies are also calling for the implementation of integrated disaster risk recovery strategies to increase communities’ resilience against any future disaster.

For more information, please contact Karen Palmer at 613-240-3047.