UNHCR ups Pakistan floods appeal to US$120 million

UNHCR ups appeal for Pakistan's flood victims to US$120 million to provide shelter and assistance to some 2 million people over the next four months.

This displaced family from Jacobabad, Sindh, must live in the open in Quetta.  © UNHCR/D.A.Khan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, August 24 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency said Tuesday it was upping its appeal for Pakistan's flood victims to US$120 million so that it can provide emergency shelter and assistance to some 2 million people over the next four months.

UNHCR, which had previously sought US$41 million for its special Pakistan operation, made the announcement as field workers reported that encampments were mushrooming across Sindh province as the floods spread into new areas of southern Pakistan over the past few days.

"Our field staff report that some 700,000 displaced people are living in 1,800 settlements - many of these located in schools or colleges or in the few camps set up by the government," spokesman Andrej Mahecic said "UNHCR is distributing tents and other relief items and providing technical advice to local officials on camp management and camp coordination issues."

In Sindh's Thatta district, where dozens of towns and villages have been flooded, a further 150,000 people fled from Kukkar over the weekend. A new warning has been issued for Shahdadkot, where floodwaters are pouring out of breaches in the Tori and Begari Canals, threatening to submerge parts of the town which has a population of 400,000 people.

About 80 per cent of the area around the town of Jacobabad in Sindh is under three to five feet of water. The flooding is moving west towards neighbouring Balochistan province. Most of the population of Jacobabad has left, but there are still 10,000 to 15,000 people who are staying to protect their properties. The authorities estimate that around 3.6 million people are now homeless in Sindh, with numbers expected to rise as the flood waters continue south.

In Balochistan, people are taking shelter on the rooftops of Gandhaka after more high tides hit the area. A further 33,000 people are reported to have moved into the area from Sindh in recent days, adding to the existing 1 million displaced and flood-affected people in the province.

UNHCR has sent relief items to the hard-hit districts of Sibi, Jaffarabad and Nasirabad. More UNHCR aid has reached the province in recent days, with the arrival of another 720 tents.

"In light of these needs UNHCR is today revising upwards the funding it is seeking to US$120 million from US$41 million previously," Mahecic said.