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Pakistan: Pakistan Red Crescent and ICRC assist flood victims

02-08-2010 News Release 10/141

Geneva (ICRC) – According to official sources, flooding caused by torrential monsoon rains has killed more than 1,100 people in Pakistan and affected up to 2.5 million people across the country in the past week

Members of the Pakistani Red Crescent help survivors of the floods in Nowshera.    
  ©Reuters/Faisal Mahmood    
People fleeing flood waters in Kalam leave the helicopter that has flown them to safety.    
  ©Reuters/Adrees Latif    
Inamullah, 4, sits amidst furniture left to dry in a flooded courtyard after returning to his house in Nowshera.    

In the worst-affected areas, entire villages were washed away without warning by walls of flood water. Thousands of people have lost everything, as homes, livestock, farm machinery and other possessions were simply swept away. In addition, many crops that were not immediately destroyed are now under water.

" In a country that is no stranger to natural disasters, this crisis has its own dimension: because so many people have lost literally all that they had, we now need to urgently distribute not only food but also the means to cook it. Items such as cooking sets and dry fuel are required for the flood victims, as is shelter, " said Muhammad Ateeb Siddiqui, director of operations of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society. " The distribution of relief is severely constrained by damaged infrastructure, and the widespread contamination of water supplies has the potential to create major health problems. "

Roads, bridges, health-care facilities and schools have suffered massive damage. Main highways are cut as bridges across the country's swollen northern rivers have been washed away. Flood-affected communities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and throughout the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are especially isolated. The Grand Trunk Road and smaller arterial roads, severed in many places where major bridges were swept away, have only recently been restored to traffic. Worryingly, supplies of fresh water have been contaminated in many areas by floodwaters, creating an urgent need for clean water.

Hundreds of stranded people have been rescued by Army helicopters from rising floodwaters in a massive rescue effort. Damage assessments to determine reli ef priorities are still under way, with the worst-affected areas identified as parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the northern and southern parts of FATA, Balochistan, the eastern Punjab and the northern areas of Pakistan-administrated Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. In those areas, up to 100,000 households are in need of assistance.

The impact in Sindh is not yet reported to be critical, but the situation is likely to change in the coming days, as the floodwaters move towards the south. August is traditionally the month of heaviest rains, meaning that much more rain is expected.

The response of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has been swift. So far, the ICRC has provided food parcels for over 20,000 individuals in Balochistan and southern FATA, which were distributed by the Pakistan Red Crescent Society. In cooperation with the Pakistan Red Crescent, the ICRC will press ahead with relief operations in the many affected areas where it is currently working, including in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Balochistan. Several thousand households are expected to receive aid provided by the Movement in the near future.

  For further information, please contact:
  Michael O'Brien, ICRC Pakistan, tel: +92 300 850 8138
  Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02