Flooding in Pakistan has put three million children in need of urgent help

UNICEF/UN0691098/Sami Malik

The devastating floods that have struck Pakistan – the most severe in its recent history –  means that some three million children are in need of humanitarian assistance and at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition.

That’s the stark warning from children’s charity UNICEF, which is is working with the government and partners to respond to the urgent needs of children and families in affected areas.

Some 33 million people – including approximately 16 million children – have been affected by this year’s heavy monsoon rains in the country, which have brought devastating rains, floods and landslides.

Over 1,100 people including over 350 children have lost their lives, and a further 1,600 have been injured. Over 287,000 houses have been fully, and 662,000 partially, destroyed. Some major rivers have breached their banks and dams overflowed, destroying homes, farms and critical infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and public health facilities.

Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, said: “When disasters hit, children are always among the most vulnerable,” said . “These floods have already taken a devastating toll on children and families, and the situation could become even worse. UNICEF is working closely with the Government and other partners to ensure that children affected get the critical support they need as soon as possible.”

‘Ensuring children get the critical support they need’

In affected areas, 30 per cent of water systems are estimated to have been damaged, further increasing the risk of disease outbreaks with people resorting to open defecation and drinking unsafe water.

There are reports of significant damage to education infrastructure as 17,566 schools have been damaged/destroyed, further jeopardizing the education of children. After two years of pandemic school closures in the last few years, children once again risk further disruption to their learning, in areas where one-third of girls and boys were already out-of-school before the crisis.

Cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been reported. They affect populations which are very vulnerable – 40 per cent of children already suffered from stunting, caused by chronic undernutrition, before the floods hit. The perilous humanitarian situation is expected to continue to worsen in the days and weeks ahead as heavy rains continue in regions already underwater.

Adapted from original text by UNICEF

Author: Simon Weedy

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