Pakistan: UN urgently seeks donations for flood survivors

News Stories, 12 August 2010

© UNHCR/H.Mehboob
Displaced children await Ramadan food packages in Jalozai Camp.

ISLAMABAD, 11 August 2010 (UNHCR) With over 160,000 people having so far received UNHCR emergency shelter and relief assistance across flood-affected areas of Pakistan, the agency appealed on Wednesday for $41 million to help meet the urgent needs of a further 560,000 people, amounting to 80,000 families.

"The people of Pakistan urgently need the support of the international community," said Mengesha Kebede, UNHCR representative to Pakistan. "The monsoon floods that swept across the land destroyed homes, farms, factories and entire livelihoods for millions of people."

The $41 million that UNHCR is seeking is part of a wider $459 million UN appeal launched today at UN headquarters in New York. As the appeal was being made, UNHCR trucks that had been trapped for a week by landslides finally reached Quetta carrying all-weather family tents for thousands of people in Balochistan Province made homeless by the floods. A further five trucks are expected to arrive in Quetta over the next hours, bringing help to a further 20,000 people.

UNHCR is focusing its flood-relief efforts mainly in west and northwest Pakistan's Balochistan and Khyber Paktunkhwa provinces, where it is assisting Pakistani communities, people displaced by conflict, and long-time Afghan refugees.

"We're putting our stockpiles and expertise to work helping all communities affected by this disaster, but funding is urgently needed to help agencies respond in this time of crisis," UNHCR's Kebede said.

UNHCR, one of the world's leading aid agencies, is among the relief groups working with Pakistan's disaster management authorities to help families recover from the devastating floods that have destroyed more than 300,000 homes throughout the country.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, the agency has so far dispatched 1,000 tents to Sindh Province, which were delivered today in Sukkar and Shikarpur districts.

In the south, where flood waters are still rising, more than 600 spontaneous settlements have sprung up across affected districts of Sindh in public facilities including schools, colleges and government buildings. Conditions are extremely crowded. People are also camping out along roadsides and many lack shelter. UNHCR tents have been sent to the city of Sukkur with the remainder going to Shikarpur.

In northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a UNHCR assessment team today visited the badly damaged Azakehl refugee village, which formerly accommodated around 6,000 Afghan families. Their report detailed huge devastation.

"Ninty-nine percent of the camp has been completely destroyed by the floods, clearing the rubble would take at least two months," said Werner Schellenberg, UNHCR's shelter coordinator. "I saw a handful of people there trying to rescue their belongings but the majority of the Afghans have left to live with relatives or camp along the elevated roadside, where a makeshift site has sprung up."

UNHCR's main office in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is focusing it flood relief work on Charsadda, Nowshera, and damaged areas of Peshawar. The agency has also sent tents for 500 families to Swat, where an assessment mission is underway. The aid distributed so far has come entirely from stockpiles through which UNHCR has been helping people displaced by conflict in the northwest.

By Peter Kessler in Islamabad, Pakistan

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