UNHCR urgently seeks US$66 million for communities devastated by Pakistan floods
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urgently seeking US$65.8 million to help more than 650,000 refugees and members of their host communities affected by the recent devastating floods in Pakistan.
As Pakistan faces a colossal challenge to respond to this climate disaster, UNHCR reiterates its call for more support for the country and its people, who have generously hosted Afghan refugees for over four decades. The scale of devastation from the monsoon on people and infrastructure is hard to comprehend.
According to the latest estimates, unprecedented rainfall and flooding in late August resulted in at least 1,700 deaths, with 12,800 injured, including at least 4,000 children. Some 7.9 million people have been displaced by the floods, according to the latest estimates, with nearly 600,000 living in relief sites.
Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces were most affected, with 80 districts declared “calamity hit”. Of these, 41 host an estimated 800,000 Afghan refugees. Most are in just four districts: Peshawar (210,000), Quetta (170,000), Nowshera (77,700) and Karachi (71,500).
Some of those affected spoke to UNHCR about their traumatic experiences as rain and flood waters swept away their lives in minutes. Families rushed to higher ground for safety as dams failed and rivers burst their banks. They were forced to abandon a lifetime of belongings and sleep under open skies.
UNHCR’s Supplementary Appeal seeks additional funds to address immediate needs including protection, shelter, health, water and sanitation, and education for affected refugees and host communities. It will also assist in the early recovery process, including building up the resilience of refugees and their host communities and rehabilitating damaged public services – schools, health, and water supplies.
The overall UN inter-agency Floods Response Plan, first issued in early September 2022, was revised and launched on 4 October to support the Government of Pakistan with relief and early recovery activities until May 2023. UNHCR’s Supplementary Appeal will run until December 2023.
UNHCR remains alarmed about conditions on the ground. It could take months for flood waters to recede in the hardest-hit areas, as fears rise over threats of waterborne diseases and the safety of millions of affected people, 70 per cent of whom are women and children.
Pre-existing inequalities have been exacerbated by the flooding, and protection risks have increased. UNHCR, is leading protection activities and working to ensure that critical needs are identified and addressed through prevention, risk mitigation and other services by specialised actors. These include, in particular, measures to address gender-based violence and child protection risks. A priority remains timely aid for the most vulnerable, and ensuring that it is delivered in a safe and dignified manner including by building partner capacity and strengthening accountability to affected communities, with outreach on sexual exploitation and complaints mechanisms.
From the outset, UNHCR has been supporting the response managed by the Government in affected areas with high concentrations of refugees. In September 2022, UNHCR delivered over 10,000 metric tons of goods in less than four weeks from our warehouses and suppliers in Pakistan and our regional and global contingency stocks in Termez and Dubai, dispatching some 300 trucks and 23 airlifts.
Working with Pakistan’s disaster management authorities, UNHCR completed the first phase of its response, including assisting flood-affected families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh provinces with tents, solar lanterns, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits and other life-saving items.
Pakistan is on the frontlines of the climate emergency. It is essential that the response incorporates prevention and preparedness measures to avert and minimize the effects of extreme weather events in the future and helps build resilience, particularly among the most vulnerable communities. Environmental sustainability will remain central to the response including connecting schools, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and health centres to renewable energy sources.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
- In Islamabad, Aoife McDonnell, [email protected], +92 3202 538 941
- In Islamabad, Qaiser Khan Afridi, [email protected] +92 300 5018696
- In Bangkok (regional), Babar Baloch, [email protected], +66 80 086 5611
- In Geneva, Matthew Saltmarsh, [email protected]; +41 79 967 99 36
- In New York, Kathryn Mahoney, [email protected], +1 347 574 6552