Geneva: Around four million children are fighting for survival due to contaminated and stagnate flood water in Pakistan, warned the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Deadly floods hit Pakistan last summer, and have now only partly receded. 33 million people were affected in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, which is regarded to have been Pakistan’s greatest climate disaster.
In a statement, UN Agency said, around 1.6 million children were already suffering from severe acute malnutrition, while another six million children suffer from stunting, a condition which can cause “irreversible damage” to children’s brains, bodies and immune systems.
While “the rains have ended…to a great degree, so has media attention,” Representative in Pakistan, Abdullah Fadil, told reporters in Geneva adding that, with homes destroyed, children are facing a “bitter winter, without decent shelter”.
Villages have reportedly been turned into islands, with many children orphaned and families living under scraps of plastic freezing conditions. Post floods, this situation is expected to worsen exponentially, warned Fadil.
“27 thousand schools have been washed away,” he said, but “UNICEF’s current appeal of $173 million is less than half funded”.
The total of $9 billion, pledged last week by international donors to help Pakistan recover from the catastrophe, was welcomed by Mr. Fadil, who emphasized that “children must be at the centre of recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts”.
The UNICEF spokesperson declared that real economic recovery and sustained growth can only be achieved if the necessary investments to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of children are made, and called for investment in building human capital and resiliency, particularly in rural Sindh and Balochistan where much of the devastation occurred.
“Pakistan is a known climate hotspot, and it is only a matter of time before another large-scale climate disaster strikes the country’s children,” he warned.
Earlier this month, UN chief António Guterres reiterated the need to help developing countries such as Pakistan become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
The UN chief insisted that the international banking system needs radical reform in favour of developing countries, to “right a fundamental wrong”.
The UN development agency, UNDP has warned that an additional nine million people are at risk of being pushed into poverty, on top of the 33 million affected by last summer’s devastating floods in Pakistan.
According to the agency, more than 1,700 people were killed in the monsoon flooding disaster, and at least two million homes were destroyed and damaged, along with “13,000 or more kilometres of roads, 3,000 kilometres or more of railway tracks, 439 bridges, 4.4 million acres of agricultural land.