While more than seven million people have been affected by the floods in Sindh since they began less than 50 days ago, Oxfam is urgently calling on the international donor community to expedite its response in order to give critical and life-saving relief to those in need. The international humanitarian organization warned that, as the numbers of people affected continue to rise, deaths could increase and millions of futures destroyed if funding remains slow.
“The lives of those affected by the floods are hanging in a balance. Millions still don’t have access to food, water, sanitation, shelter, and healthcare. Pakistan cannot afford a slow response to this disaster. Time is of the essence if the situation is to be controlled. Every ounce of resource available including those stocked up in warehouses must be mobilized now,” said Neva Khan, Country Director of Oxfam in Pakistan.
Since the launch of the Government of Pakistan’s appeal to the world community for assistance responding to the floods, no significant pledges and disbursements have been made. According to figures released by the Pakistan Foreign Office, China has pledged $4.7 million in relief of which only $50,000 has been disbursed. Japan has pledged $450,000 in relief assistance, none of which has been disbursed yet, and Iran has pledged two planes loaded with relief goods which are still to be delivered. The United States is yet to announce any monetary assistance, however it has already provided food, water, sanitation, shelter, and hygiene to 30,000 families.
The large sum of the UN’s $365 million flash appeal for the people in Sindh and Balochistan provinces who have been affected by the floods shows the staggering scale of this disaster. Nine districts in Balochistan together with 22 in Sindh have been affected because of the floods.
“The number of deaths are increasing each passing day. Hundreds of thousands of people still remain trapped in flood waters awaiting rescue. Those who have managed to escape literally have to fight to get hold of the relief supplies being distributed. The amount of aid available is simply not enough. The government, international humanitarian, and donor community must gear-up their response,” said Khan.
Women and children are the hardest hit. According to UN Population Fund (UNFPA), at least 115,000 women in the flood affected areas are pregnant, and every day, close to 400 women go into labor. At least 60 have life-threatening pregnancy complications. Their immunity against diseases has eroded drastically, and women who are already anemic are now more prone to diseases and pregnancy complications.
As the rains continue to fall and stagnant waters become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, women and children are now more vulnerable to water and vector borne diseases than ever. According to an estimate, over one million children are at serve risk of contracting flood-related diseases.
“The resilience of Pakistanis has been pushed over the edge by two floods in a row. Oxfam places women and children at the heart of all its operations. We are working around the clock to ensure women and children have access to clean water and sanitation to help ward off the threat of diseases,” said Khan.