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UN agencies respond to flood emergency in Afghanistan

2 August 2010 – United Nations agencies said today they have begun providing relief assistance to thousands of families in central and eastern Afghanistan, who are affected by the floods that have followed torrential rains in the region

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it is working with the Afghan Government and other UN agencies and partners to respond to the hygiene, nutrition and primary health needs of up to 4,000 families in the affected regions.

UNICEF has so far provided 430 tents to Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, which border north-western Pakistan, which has also been devastated by floods.

Water, family kits, water storage items and chlorine for water purification for 2,000 families and high-energy biscuits for 10,000 children under the age of five and pregnant and lactating women are expected to reach Kapisa province today.

Oral rehydration salts to prevent deaths from diarrhoea, chlorine for water purification, high-energy biscuits to cover immediate nutritional needs, and equipment for hygiene and water storage had been pre-positioned earlier this year and are expected to reach the worst affected areas in the next 48 hours. A measles vaccination campaign is also planned.

“Children are always the most affected by emergencies. It is critical that they have access to clean water,” said Peter Crowley, the UNICEF representative in Afghanistan. “They must be protected from the threat of diarrhoea and the outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. But we must not forget that other services such as education are to re-start as soon as possible to help children regain a sense of normalcy.”

The Afghan Government estimates that the floods have left several thousand individuals homeless in northeast Kapisa, central Ghazni, Laghman, Nangarhar, Kunar, Logar, Khost and northern Parwan provinces, where at least 2,500 houses have been destroyed.

An estimated 80 people have reportedly died in the floods, and much of the arable land, where crops were planted, has been inundated.

The destruction of roads and bridges, as well as security considerations hindered response to the flood emergency, according to UNICEF.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, said it would provide food for three months to flood-affected families in Nangarhar and Laghman, while the UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) is ready to distribute wheat seeds as part of post-disaster package.

An official from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said UN agencies had sufficient resources to respond to the flood emergency. “We have discussed about the resources and they are fairly sufficient,” according to the official, Said Alam Khan.

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