Pakistan's 5.7 million flood victims now facing food crisis

UN says a humanitarian appeal will be raised to $816 million amid rising deaths from disease

A child displaced by flooding living in a tent city in Hyderabad district, Sindh province, south-east Pakistan. More than 33 million people have been affected nationwide. EPA
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About 5.7 million Pakistani flood survivors will face a serious food crisis in the next three months, the UN humanitarian agency warned on Monday.

An appeal for Pakistan will be raised to $816 million from $160m amid rising deaths from disease, Julien Harneis, the UN resident co-ordinator in Pakistan, told reporters in Geneva.

He said aid agencies needed more funds to prevent a “second wave of destruction” from waterborne and other diseases.

The UN issued an appeal for $160m in emergency funding in late August, but this was not enough to meet the scale of devastation, he said.

Monday's warning came hours after Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority reported that floods from abnormally heavy monsoon rains have killed 1,695 people, affected 33 million and damaged more than two million homes. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are now living in tents and makeshift homes.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in its latest report on Saturday said the current floods are expected to exacerbate food insecurity in Pakistan and said 5.7 million people in flood-affected areas are facing a food crisis.

A man uses a makeshift raft to cross a flood waters in Jaffarabad, in Pakistan's Balochistan province. AFP

Even before the floods, according to the World Health Organisation, 16 per cent of the population was living in moderate or severe food insecurity.

However, Pakistan’s government insists that there is no immediate worry about food supplies, as wheat stocks are enough to last through until the next harvest and that it is importing more.

The UN agency said in a tweet on Monday that the agency and other partners have scaled up their flood response and delivered aid to 1.6 million people directly affected by the deluges.

It said outbreaks of waterborne and other diseases are on the rise in south-eastern province Sindh and south-western province Balochistan, where floods have caused the most damage since mid-June.

A number of countries, including the UAE, and UN agencies have sent more than 131 flights carrying aid for survivors.

But many say they have either received too little help or are still waiting for it.

The UN agency also said in its Saturday report that rainfall in Balochistan and Sindh lightened substantially over the past week, as temperatures start to fall ahead of winter.

“Normal conditions are prevailing in most districts of Balochistan, while in Sindh, the Indus River is flowing normally,” it said.

In 18 out of 22 districts of Sindh, floodwater levels had receded at least 34 per cent, and in some districts up to 78 per cent.

The report also highlighted the ordeal of flood survivors, saying many continue to live in “unsanitary conditions in temporary shelters, often with limited access to basic services, compounding the risk of a major public health crisis”.

It said pregnant women are being treated in temporary camps when possible, with nearly 130,000 in need of urgent health services.

“Already before the floods, Pakistan had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Asia, with the situation likely to deteriorate,” the agency said.

Pakistan says floods caused about $30 billion of damage to its economy.

Floods washed away thousands of kilometres of roads, destroyed 440 bridges and disrupted rail services.

Pakistan Railways said it has started restoring train service from Sindh after repairing some tracks damaged by floods.

Updated: October 04, 2022, 5:46 AM