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UNHCR warns of grave conditions in Balochistan

Briefing notes

UNHCR warns of grave conditions in Balochistan

3 September 2010

Despite flood waters receding in some parts of Pakistan and more people returning home, the overall humanitarian situation is still very grave. Conditions in the thousands of spontaneous settlements and camps that have sprung up over the last few weeks are desperate. We have had reports overnight of new flooding in parts of Dadu Tehsil in Sindh province as embankments are breached.

Of particular concern to UNHCR is the growing crisis in Balochistan province, which has had scant attention compared to areas closer to the Indus River. Almost two million people there are still being affected by floods, including 600,000 who fled from neighbouring Sindh. There is a persistent threat of water born disease, shortages of shelter, and very limited quantities of food for children.

In southern Sindh, where flood waters hit Thatta and surrounding districts last week, thousands of families are now living on streets without water and sanitation. According to the authorities about 20 percent of people displaced by floods in this area are returning to their villages to salvage and protect property. People returning by boat will remain cut off until waters recede further. Others, however, are expected to remain displaced for several months. There is urgent need to improve conditions for the displaced and support people in returning home.

As elsewhere in Pakistan, UNHCR has stepped up its operation in Sindh with new offices in Karachi and Sukkur to manage operations in the south and north of the province. We have deployed site planners and other technical staff to advise local officials on the management and coordination of camps, as well as continuing our distribution of shelter supplies.

UNHCR is also deploying additional protection staff to identify the needs of particularly vulnerable people. Given the scale of the crisis, and aid shortages, we want to see better targeting of aid and more orderly mechanisms of distribution to ensure the most vulnerable are being looked after.