(Islamabad/New York/Geneva, 8 September 2010): On the second day of her three-day visit to Pakistan, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos today travelled to the heavily flooded Sindh province in southern Pakistan, where she met some of the 6.9 million people affected by floods in the province and reviewed the ongoing relief effort with representatives of the local authorities and humanitarian community.
"Everything I saw and heard today confirmed that this disaster - already one of the largest the world has seen--is still getting bigger," said Ms. Amos. "The crisis in Sindh province alone is bigger than anything most countries have faced. With 21 million people affected across Pakistan this cannot be treated as just another crisis--it is an immense and still unfolding catastrophe."
Millions of people in Pakistan are living without the most basic necessities because their homes and livelihoods have been washed away or damaged by the floods. Diarrhoea is spreading in flood affected areas and the potential for a malaria outbreak and an increase in malnutrition is worrying. Millions of children and pregnant women are especially at risk. In Sindh, over 27,000 square kilometres of the province are still under water; nearly half a million homes have been destroyed.
In Haibat Bund near Ghauspur Ms. Amos met people forced to flee when flood defences failed. She spoke with families living in temporary shelters to determine whether their needs were being met by the relief effort, and discussed with a mother of six the difficulties the family was facing in keeping themselves healthy without sufficient access to clean water, food, proper sanitation or bed nets.
In Sukkur city, the capital of Sindh, Ms. Amos met affected people at a camp at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA). She sat with children attending a temporary school. Over 4,000 schools in Sindh province have been taken over to shelter displaced people. Temporary schools like the one at IBA camp are helping keep children's education on track.
Ms. Amos also met with local representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), United Nations agencies and local government in Sukkur to discuss the challenges facing the relief effort.
"The concerns people expressed to me were mostly about problems we can address such as malaria, their children not getting enough to eat, skin diseases and insufficient shelter. People are also worried about their futures - for many of them even when the waters recede, they will have nothing to go back to."
In Sindh province, the United Nations and its partners have so far delivered one-month food rations to 445,000 people, provided essential medication to cover the potential health needs of 656,700 people, and set up 7,786 tents and 33,668 tarpaulins - sufficient shelter for 122,820 people. Every day in Sindh, 115,000 people receive clean drinking water through tankering, hand pumps and water purification tablets.
"The humanitarian community has so much to offer here. We can prevent a lot of needless suffering, but only if our operations on the ground are scaled up properly. I am going to have to ask our supporters to dig deeper as we need a lot more resources," said Ms. Amos.
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