Pakistan: UN urgently seeks donations for flood survivors

UNHCR launches a $41-million appeal to help the neediest in Pakistan.

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

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

  • A boy makes his way through thick mud and debris carrying belongings he managed to salvage from his family's home, Pir Pai.
    A boy makes his way through thick mud and debris carrying belongings he managed to salvage from his family's home, Pir Pai.  © A. Fazzina for UNHCR/Noor
  • A young goat herder collects driftwood on the muddy shoreline of the Swat River near Chakdara.
    A young goat herder collects driftwood on the muddy shoreline of the Swat River near Chakdara. © A. Fazzina for UNHCR /Noor
  • An Afghan family transports their recovered belongings back to their temporary shelter via donkey cart, Pir Pai.
    An Afghan family transports their recovered belongings back to their temporary shelter via donkey cart, Pir Pai.  © A. Fazzina for UNHCR /Noor
  • Afghan refugees salvage their belongings from the mud.
    Afghan refugees salvage their belongings from the mud.  © A. Fazzina for UNHCR /Noor
  • A man surrounded by salvaged goods rests in an impromptu camp on a median strip of the Grand Trunk Road, near Nowshera.
    A man surrounded by salvaged goods rests in an impromptu camp on a median strip of the Grand Trunk Road, near Nowshera. © A. Fazzina for UNHCR/Noor
  • A woman washes her young daughter in muddy water as traffic rolls by.
    A woman washes her young daughter in muddy water as traffic rolls by. © A. Fazzina for UNHCR/Noor
  • A makeshift camp along the trunk road. People without any means to rent accommodation have been forced onto this patch of high ground.
    A makeshift camp along the trunk road. People without any means to rent accommodation have been forced onto this patch of high ground. ©  A. Fazzina for UNHCR /Noor
  • Ten year-old Naida prays in the water-damaged sitting room of her family's home in Nishath Mill Village. Until two days ago, the house was submerged in one meter of flood water   and Naida and her six brothers and sisters were forced to sleep on the roof .
    Ten year-old Naida prays in the water-damaged sitting room of her family's home in Nishath Mill Village. Until two days ago, the house was submerged in one meter of flood water and Naida and her six brothers and sisters were forced to sleep on the roof .  ©  A. Fazzina for UNHCR /Noor
  • A fight breaks out over a bag of cooked rice. With more than three million people affected by flooding,  food supplies are running dangerously short.
    A fight breaks out over a bag of cooked rice. With more than three million people affected by flooding, food supplies are running dangerously short. ©  A. Fazzina for UNHCR /Noor
  • A young Afghan refugee, covered in mud and dirt, stands in her family's water-damaged home in the village of Nishath Mill. Surrounded by dark brown water, her family has no clean water to drink or food to eat. Their remote village has yet to receive any assistance.
    A young Afghan refugee, covered in mud and dirt, stands in her family's water-damaged home in the village of Nishath Mill. Surrounded by dark brown water, her family has no clean water to drink or food to eat. Their remote village has yet to receive any assistance. ©  A. Fazzina for UNHCR /Noor

  • An aerial view of the flooded village of Tali in the Sibi district, in Balochistan, western Pakistan.
    An aerial view of the flooded village of Tali in the Sibi district, in Balochistan, western Pakistan. © UNHCR/N.James
  • Residents walk on a flood-ravaged road outside Tali village in Balochistan.
    Residents walk on a flood-ravaged road outside Tali village in Balochistan. © UNHCR/N.James
  • A man in Balochistan digs through the rubble in search of personal belongings to salvage.
    A man in Balochistan digs through the rubble in search of personal belongings to salvage.  © UNHCR/N.James
  • A young boy feels his way through flood waters using a walking stick.
    A young boy feels his way through flood waters using a walking stick.  © UNHCR/N.James
  • The ruins of homes destroyed in the worst flooding Pakistan has seen in decades, Tali village, Balochistan.
    The ruins of homes destroyed in the worst flooding Pakistan has seen in decades, Tali village, Balochistan.  © UNHCR/N.James
  • At the UNHCR warehouse in Quetta, trucks are loaded with tents, jerry cans, buckets, kitchen sets and plastic sheets for distribution to survivors of the floods.
    At the UNHCR warehouse in Quetta, trucks are loaded with tents, jerry cans, buckets, kitchen sets and plastic sheets for distribution to survivors of the floods.  © UNHCR/D.A Khan
  • A convoy of UNHCR trucks loaded with relief items for flood survivors in Charsada district in north-west Pakistan.
    A convoy of UNHCR trucks loaded with relief items for flood survivors in Charsada district in north-west Pakistan.  © UNHCR/Z. Jamal
  • Transporting relief items to the affected areas is extremely difficult as flood waters have washed away many roads and bridges.
    Transporting relief items to the affected areas is extremely difficult as flood waters have washed away many roads and bridges.  © UNHCR/D.A Khan
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