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More resources urgently needed for Pakistan flood relief efforts, UN stresses

29 October 2010 – United Nations humanitarian agencies today called for urgent additional resources for the flood relief efforts in Pakistan, warning that millions are at risk of not having enough food, shelter and warm clothing as winter approaches.

Martin Mogwanja, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan, has cautioned that emergency food supplies for flood-affected people will run out in December unless additional resources are received.

With winter on the way, seven million people still do not have adequate shelter or quilts, blankets and warm clothing, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The $2 billion appeal for aid for Pakistani flood victims, the largest-ever launched by the UN and its partners for a natural disaster, is currently 39 per cent funded.

OCHA spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs underscored the need for more contributions to the appeal, noting that some key sectors such as food security, health and camp coordination and management were “seriously underfunded.”

Humanitarian assistance, notably in Sindh province, where 7.2 million people remained affected by the floods, was vital ahead of the winter, she told reporters in Geneva. The water has receded in some places, but it might take more than six months before other areas dried up.

She added that one million people are living in temporary shelters or in camps in Sindh, but the humanitarian aid pipeline is being restricted due to a lack of contributions, notably in the food sector.

“The humanitarian response in Sindh must be stepped up,” she urged, while noting that this is very difficult to do given the lack of funding.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) believes tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people will have to remain in camps throughout the winter, due to persistent standing waters in parts of Sindh and Balochistan.

The agency’s spokesperson, Adrian Edwards, said those hardest hit by the flooding – people affected by extreme poverty, loss of livelihoods and other vulnerabilities – might need camp accommodation even longer.

He added that shelter, household items, food and clean drinking water remained the biggest needs and, as winter approached, UNHCR is increasingly being asked to provide more blankets and quilts.

Meanwhile, the head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has wrapped up a three-day visit to Pakistan, during which she visited health facilities in different parts of the country and met with health authorities, as well as Pakistan’s President, on the recovery efforts and the continuing health needs.

Director-General Margaret Chan also launched a polio programme in northern Pakistan and visited diarrhoea treatment and nutrition centres in Sindh province while in the country, where the main health concerns are acute respiratory infections, suspected malaria, acute diarrhoea and skin diseases.

WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood said that in response to the concerns around diarrhoeal diseases and cholera, more than 60 diarrhoea treatment centres have been established across the flood-affected areas.

Dengue fever and new cases of polio are also appearing in some parts of the country, he added.

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