HomeWorldIllness, malnutrition threaten floods in Pakistan: UN

Illness, malnutrition threaten floods in Pakistan: UN

Pakistan was ravaged by extreme weather once earlier this year, with extreme heat waves scorching the country in spring

Pakistan was ravaged by extreme weather once earlier this year, with extreme heat waves scorching the country in spring

UN officials warned on September 21 that Pakistan was at risk of water-borne diseases and malnutrition after record monsoon floods, which are more deadly than the initial deluge.

Pakistan has been stricken by unprecedented monsoon rains, covering a third of the country – an area the size of the United Kingdom – and killing nearly 1,600 people, according to the latest government figures.

More than seven million people have been displaced, many living in temporary tents without mosquito protection, and often with little access to clean drinking water or washing facilities.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Julian Harnis said Pakistan faced a “second disaster” from diseases such as dengue, malaria, cholera and diarrhoea, as well as malnutrition.

“My personal concern is that the number of deaths from water-borne diseases, malnutrition will be higher than what we have seen so far,” he told a news conference in the capital Islamabad.

“It’s a sober but realistic understanding.”

About 33 million people have been affected by the floods, which have destroyed nearly two million homes and business premises, washed away 7,000 kilometers (4,300 mi) of roads and destroyed 500 bridges.

Cultivated land – mostly in the southern province of Sindh – is still under water.

Dengue cases have exceeded 6,000 since the start of the year – half in September alone – and are already approaching the 2021 total.

But the devastation is so widespread and continuing – with some communities still cut off – that the full picture of the tragedy is yet to be revealed.

Scott Woolery, UNICEF’s head of field operations, said five hundred children died as a direct impact of the floods.

“We are not worried about the hundreds. We are worried about the thousands,” he said of the health crisis.

“Many of them we will probably never know, they will not be counted.”

The United Nations has already resolved to surpass its initial campaign to raise $160 million for flood relief, but now has plans to meet that goal.

“The absolute priority is to tackle the health crisis that is affecting the flood-affected districts right now,” Mr. Harnis said.

Pakistan was ravaged by extreme weather once earlier this year, with extreme heat waves scorching the country in the spring.

Scientists have linked both events to human-caused climate change.

The South Asian nation – home to more than 220 million – is responsible for less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

But it ranks eighth on a list compiled by the NGO Germanwatch, of countries most vulnerable to extreme weather due to climate change.

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