Pakistan

PAKISTAN: NUMBERS OF AFFECTED PEOPLE CONTINUE TO RISE

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(New York / Geneva / Islamabad: 08 August 2010): Pakistan's deadly floods have now affected over six million people, according to the latest estimates produced today by the Provincial Authorities of Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), and Punjab, in cooperation with the United Nations. As of yesterday, the estimate was of just over four million.

"Things will probably get worse, before they start getting better", said Martin Mogwanja, Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan, "We are working at full speed to respond to the most urgent needs of the affected populations".

The riverine floods caused by the waters of the Indus River have meanwhile reached Sindh Province, located in the country's south, and hundreds of villages have been flooded. The protective bund at Torhi, located near Sukkur in the province's north, has been breached. Several barrages and embankments are also at risk of breaking. "While comprehensive estimates are not yet available, it is certain that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are being affected in this province", said Dennis Bruhn, a United Nations disaster management expert who arrived in Sindh today. According to forecasts, heavy rain will continue to fall in Sindh for at least the next three days.

Until the waters recede, it will be nearly impossible to access some of the worst-affected areas for assessments and delivery of assistance. "We are particularly concerned about the needs of 600,000 people, who remain completely cut off in the north of KPK", said Wolfgang Herbinger, Country Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), "especially as no helicopter deliveries have been possible for three days because of bad weather".

While the amount of funds required for the relief operations cannot be known until needs are more comprehensively assessed, it is expected that the amount required over the coming months will be several hundreds of millions of dollars. "And with so much destruction to agricultural land and to infrastructure, more hundreds of millions, if not billions, will be required on the longer term to restore livelihoods, as well as services including the health system", said Dr. Ahmed Shaboul, officer-incharge for the World Health Organization (WHO) in the country.

The floods are the worst in Pakistan's living memory, and the needs arising out of this disaster are comparable to those that followed the 2005 earthquake. So far, the province worst affected is KPK, located in the country's north-west, where an estimated 3.9 million people have been affected, including 1.5 million who are homeless.

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