Pakistan: UNHCR to launch airlift to meet Balochistan's urgent needs
ISLAMABAD, 14 August 2010 (UNHCR) - The UN Refugee Agency will urgently airlift relief items to flood stricken Balochistan Province to boost relief supplies available to meet the needs of vulnerable people forced to flee the floods.
Estimates put the number of people in Balochistan in need of shelter assistance at 287,000, but damage assessment across eastern areas of the province is ongoing and that number is expected to rise.
Tens of thousands of people have fled flooding in Naseerabad and Jaffarabad, two of the hardest-hit districts in Balochistan, with more than 1,000 people having arrived in the provincial capital Quetta. More than 10,000 desperate people fleeing rising waters in Sindh Province have so far sought help in Balochistan's Sibi District.
The UN Refugee Agency initially plans to airlift plastic sheeting, mosquito nets and soap to Balochistan to assist flood-affected Pakistanis and Afghan refugees and is working to arrange suitable cargo flights. More than 4,700 tents and 5,000 kitchen sets are on their way by road from manufacturers in Karachi and should reach Quetta as early as tomorrow. UNHCR has so far dispatched shelter material for more than 46,000 people to communities across Balochistan.
The joint UN team that reached Naseerabad and Jaffarabad saw displaced families living under an open sky and drinking muddy water used by animals and for washing. Plastic sheeting and tents are urgently needed to shelter and protect vulnerable women and children. Nearly all clinics, schools and other facilities have been submerged as the water swept across the worst-affected districts. Afghan refugee camps in Balochistan have also been badly damaged.
"Humanitarian needs keep rising across Pakistan as assessment teams reach more remote areas," said Mr Mengesha Kebede, UNHCR's representative in Pakistan. "We're getting aid to many vulnerable and exposed Pakistani and refugee families in flood stricken communities, but we urgently need more support to meet the vast needs."
The agency last week launched an initial $41 million funding appeal to support shelter and protection needs of some 560,000 refugees and Pakistani communities devastated by the monsoon flooding. While donors have indicated they will support UNHCR's request, the agency expects its shelter and protection programme to expand due to the needs of both refugees and Pakistani host communities.
Working mainly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, the UN refugee agency has already dispatched enough shelter material and family kits for some 330,000 people.
"We require greater support from both governments and private individuals to meet the needs on the ground and replenish our flood-devastated stockpiles," Kebede declared.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province most seriously hit by the flooding, UNHCR will deliver tents, plastic sheeting and various family items to people in Babara village in Charsadda District following an assessment earlier this week that found more than 50 homes washed away and 200 were badly damaged.
"There's still a lot of mud everywhere," said UNHCR's Ariane Rummery. "Families have four feet of water in each room and are trying to scoop it out but lack tools as everything was buried or washed away."
"We visited one family in Babara that sheltered 70 neighbours on the roof and in the upper two rooms of their home while the flooding was at is peak," she said.