A third of the population of the Gaza Strip needs psychological and social support

The scale of Pakistan’s humanitarian crisis is unprecedented, with a third of the country under water, UN aid workers warned on Friday.

With more than 33 million people affected, this represents 15% of the total Pakistani population, said Dr Palitha Mahipala of the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in the country.

Some “More than 6.4 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance,” he said, shighlight from Islamabad to journalists in Geneva.

In recent weeks, record monsoon rains have dumped more than five times the 30-year average rainfall in some provinces, killing more than 1,200 people and injuring more than 6,000 since June. Nearly 400 children are among the victims.

Over a million homes lost

With 1.1 million homes swept away and vital infrastructure such as schools destroyed, UNICEFRepresentative of Pakistan in Pakistan, Abdullah Fadil, explained that “18,000 schools have been destroyed and thousands of schools are now completely closed… So that means children who lost education for two years are also losing learning opportunities now.”

Apart from the massive disruption of the education system, healthcare facilities have also been heavily impacted, leaving the most vulnerable at risk.

The timing couldn’t be worse, as aid agencies have warned of an increase in water-borne and deadly diseases, such as diarrhoea, cholera, dengue or malaria.

The risk of disease increases

Pakistan already had a high level of stunting, and areas where it is a major health problem, “are the same areas that are now flooded”, says Mr. Fadil. “The Anticipation List of Waterborne Diseases – diarrhea, cholera, any disease you can imagine – gonna hit, and pretty soon, so we gotta be up to answer that too.

As the rains continue and the floods are likely to worsen over the next few days, there is an urgent need to intensify disease surveillance, restore damaged health facilities, ensure sufficient medicines and medical supplies to affected communities.

“Those involved have informed our staff on the ground of their traumatic and healing experiences as rain and floods washed away their belongings in minutes,” said Matthew Saltmarsh, spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency.

“Those who could rushed to safety on higher ground without being able to save their belongings. Shelter, clean water and food are among the most urgent needs following the flood.

Torrential monsoon rains caused the Indus River to overflow, submerging land tens of kilometers wide, according to recent images from the European Space Agency.

Crops and livestock have been lost, which has a significant impact on the livelihoods and nutrition of affected communities.

“Global Challenge”

“We have a major problem in the region and particular global challenge to ensure that the support that will be needed to revive agricultural production in Pakistan, to feed its own people, while being the continuous source of food supply for colleagues and brothers next door in Afghanistan,” Chris Kaye warned. WFP‘s Country Director for Pakistan.

Neighboring Afghanistan has also been hit hard by floods which occurred as the country struggles to recover from a series of natural disasters.

Millions of people have taken refuge in Pakistan over the past 40 years, noted Mr. Matthew Saltmarsh. “Pakistan and its people have hosted millions of Afghan refugees for more than four decades, some of whom 1.3 million are now registered in the country, plus of course a large number of undocumented Afghans.”

Climate change factor

Pakistan, which is already facing political and economic turmoil, has been thrown on the front lines of the man-made climate crisis. The South Asian country of 220 million people has faced dramatic weather conditions this year, ranging from record heat waves to deadly floods. “South Asia is one of the hotspots of the global climate crisis.

People living in these hotspots are 15 times more likely to die from the effects of climate,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said earlier this week.

Pakistan is home to more glaciers than anywhere outside the polar zones. Global warming makes the country more vulnerable to sudden explosions of melting glaciers, according to the Meteorological Service of Islamabad.

The head of the United Nations agency for reproductive health, UNFPANatalia Kanem released a statement on Friday stressing that of the 33 million people affected, some 650,000 are pregnant women.

“We are deeply saddened by the destruction and are work with the government, our UN partners and NGOs to support the humanitarian response and ensure rapid recovery from this disaster.”

The head of the United Nations reproductive health agency, UNFPA, Natalia Kanem, issued a statement on Friday stressing that of the 33 million people affected, some 650,000 are pregnant women.

“We are deeply saddened by the destruction and are work with the government, our UN partners and NGOs to support the humanitarian response and ensure rapid recovery from this disaster.”

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