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Pakistan Floods Emergency: Lessons from a continuing crisis


The floods that began in August 2011 and swept across the province of Sindh and parts of neighbouring Balochistan resulted in one of the most destructive disasters that Pakistan has experienced. More than five million people have been affected: 1.8 million people were left homeless and more than 2.2 million acres of crops were lost, resulting in agricultural losses of nearly $2 billion.

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Life begins again in Pakistan’s Northwest

Text and Photos by Peter Biro

April 25, 2011 - The village of Zor Kaleh is nestled in a valley at an altitude of some 2,300 meters (7,500 feet) in Pakistan’s magnificent upper Swat valley. The snow-covered peaks of the Hindu Kush mountain range surround the village with its quaint wooden houses and vegetable gardens.

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World Water Day: Update from Pakistan

After the flood

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More than six months on, the humanitarian crisis brought about by the worst flooding in Pakistan's history is far from over. The IRC is providing clean water and health care, and helping hard hit communities to rebuild vital infrastructure and kick start their local economies.

Posted by Kate Sands Adams on March 22nd, 2011

In 2010 my International Rescue Committee colleagues gave over 4.4 million people access to clean drinking water

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For farmers in flood ravaged Pakistan a race against time

No group was more affected by the devastating floods that swept through Pakistan this summer than farmers. The flooding washed away or ruined entire swaths of agricultural land and destroyed crops and stores of seeds needed for the coming planting season. Where once good arable land provided families with regular crops, vast areas have become barren, buried under sand and silt.

Now farmers are in a race against time to plough fields and plant seeds before the end of the winter planting season in December when it becomes too cold for crops to grow. In Khyber

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Pakistan: Surviving with tears

Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, November 24, 2010 - In a village in northwestern Pakistan where hundreds of houses once stood, 20 local women have gathered in a small, undamaged room in the only house left standing by a raging flood.

A small mat spread on the dirt floor and a simple string bed are the room's only contents. Twenty people sleep here when it is not being used as a community meeting place.

The women are here to talk about what their lives have been like since the flood and their fears and hopes for

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Families in flood ravaged Pakistan face a tough winter ahead

Three months after devastating floods tore through Pakistan, the country is still struggling to recover. So far a staggering 20 million people have been affected by the flooding, including over 8 million who have lost their homes. More than one million people remain in temporary camps in Sindh and Baluchistan provinces where large tracts of land are still under three to four feet of water.

Elsewhere, flood waters have receded and many people have managed to return to their villages. However, they

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IRC Steps Up Relief Efforts as Pakistan Flood Crisis Worsens

By Peter Biro

The massive scale of the flood disaster in Pakistan continues to grow. As the emergency unfolds in the southernmost province of Sindh, the number of people reported as having been directly affected by the floods is approaching 21 million, according to the Pakistani government.

"The water continues to rise in parts of Sindh and almost one million people have been displaced in the past week alone," said Tammy Hasselfeldt, who heads the IRC's operations in Pakistan. "The levels of acute diarrhea, respiratory infections,

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One Year On: The IRC Helps the Pakistani People Rebuild


Hundreds of thousands of civilians who were displaced by fighting between the Pakistanni army and the Taliban last year in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province have returned to the region only to find their homes, water systems and roads in ruins.

The IRC is helping communities in the region rebuild and repair their water supplies, and distributing essential items like quilts, mattresses and kitchen sets to returning families.

TO HELP: Buy a life-changing gift at the IRC store

Nearly a year after a Pakistani army

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The IRC aids thousands of people fleeing fighting in Pakistan's South Waziristan

Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan 21 Dec 2009 - More than two months after the Pakistani military launched an offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan, humanitarian aid organizations are only now gaining access to the estimated 430,000 people who have fled the fighting in the region. An earlier military offensive centered in the Swat Valley and surrounding areas uprooted some four million people and triggered a major humanitarian crisis.

Now the International Rescue Committee, in partnership with a local Pakistani organization, has launched an effort

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Pakistan: Mukhtar Mai - School for girls, not marriage [16 Days]

From November 25 to December 10, the International Rescue Committee is observing the "16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence." Our colleagues in Pakistan shared this story from Punjab Province:

A Pakistani woman named Mukhtar Mai made news around the world in 2002 when she took a group of men to court after they raped her in what they called "honor revenge" against her family because of something Mai's brother had done. Denouncing their actions and seeking legal recourse made her stand out in a society where women

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Pakistan's forgotten crisis

Islamabad and Peshawar, Pakistan 13 Oct 2009 - Over the last month world attention has focused on the hundreds of thousands of displaced people who have returned to their homes in Pakistan's conflict-ridden Swat Valley. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and other aid groups are helping these people rebuild their communities and lives. But the spotlight on events in the Swat Valley risks obscuring the desperate needs of displaced people from the tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand who cannot return to their homes, says Mike Young, the IRC's
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IRC rehabilitates schools previously occupied by displaced in Pakistan

The IRC is repairing 20 schools that were used to house thousands of people displaced by fighting between the Taliban and Pakistan army.

Last summer, nearly 85 percent - over two million people - of those displaced sought refuge in schools, where they were could access electricity. The concrete structures also provided much cooler than the tents in the camps. As a result of this intense overcrowding, the schools are in need of significant repairs in order for children to safely return to classes in the fall.

In the districts of Mardan and Swabi,

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Thousands of displaced Pakistanis learn fuel efficiency

To date, some 7,000 displaced Pakistanis in the Jalozai camp near Peshawar have received IRC training in fuel-efficient cooking, which has helped families free up much-needed household income. The program has also helped protect women and children who normally spend a significant amount of time daily collecting firewood from the areas surrounding the camps, making them vulnerable to assault.

Under the pilot program, funded by the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA),the IRC organizes workshops where displaced men and women from the conflict-affected agencies of Bajaur

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The IRC launches program to help Pakistanis returning home

The International Rescue Committee is launching a program that will deliver lifesaving emergency relief to over 200 conflict-affected villages in northwestern Pakistan. The project is funded by the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

"People are returning to villages that have been damaged or destroyed by the fighting," said Mike Young, the IRC's Pakistan country representative. "The displaced, as well those who stayed behind, need extensive assistance in rebuilding their homes and infrastructure. Through this grant, the IRC will be able to assist

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IRC mobilizes emergency health response to Monsoon floods in Pakistan

At least 20 people are confirmed dead in flash floods caused by monsoon rains in the districts of Mardan and Swabi in northwestern Pakistan. The Pakistani government estimates that the floods have affected up to 80,000 people, with approximately 400 homes destroyed. The floods ravaged farming communities, destroying much of the corn, rice, sugar cane and tobacco crops and drowning livestock-a huge economic blow to communities already reeling after taking in one million people displaced by fighting between the army and the Taliban over the past four months.
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Need for humanitarian assistance grows as displaced Pakistanis return home

Even as thousands of displaced Pakistani families head home to the Swat district, thousands more are still fleeing violence elsewhere in the country's volatile northwest, according to IRC witnesses.

"Last week the IRC saw around 10,000 people fleeing continued fighting in the northwestern Swat, Bajaur and Dir areas, streaming into one camp alone," said Mike Young, the IRC's Pakistan country representative. "They are all from areas the government confirms are dangerous due to ongoing army campaigns against the Taliban.

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Pakistan crisis "far from over" as some displaced return home

Islamabad 17 Jul 2009 - Thousands of displaced Pakistanis who fled a military offensive against the Taliban in the North-West Frontier Province began heading home this week after the Pakistani government announced the first stage of plans to return them. But for most people, returning back home is not an option.

"The crisis is far from over," said Mike Young, the IRC's Pakistan country representative. "Information about what conditions are like inside the return areas is patchy and confused. Some areas have experienced heavy destruction; others appear to be relatively

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IRC assessment in Pakistan shows "shocking" conditions for many displaced people living outside camps

An assessment by the International Rescue Committee of uprooted Pakistanis living outside the camp system in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province shows many are living in "appalling" conditions.

"In my 15 years as a health care professional I've never seen conditions like this in Pakistan," said Dr. Balqias Khan, IRC health coordinator for Pakistan. "I was shocked by the appalling sanitary conditions surrounding IDPs [internally displaced people] squatting in schools. Between the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions,