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Pakistan: ICRC steps up assistance for flood victims

02-09-2010 News Release

Geneva/Islamabad (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has launched a budget extension appeal for 77 million Swiss francs (approximately 76 million US dollars, or 59 million euros) to boost the assistance it is providing in cooperation with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society for victims of the floods in Pakistan.

In parallel, the ICRC is maintaining its aid for people displaced by armed violence.

" We are stepping up our assistance effort with the aim of providing food, clean water, and medical aid for up to 1.4 million people, " said Jacques de Maio, the ICRC's head of operations for South Asia. " Together with the Pakistan Red Crescent, we are overcoming major logistical challenges to achieve this aim. In addition, we are doing everything we can to help contain the spread of acute diarrhoea, other water-borne diseases and malaria. It's a race against time. "

The torrential monsoon rains that began at the end of July have caused devastating floods in up to one third of the country. The ICRC immediately took action and together with the Pakistan Red Crescent swiftly brought aid to more than 350,000 people in areas such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North-West Frontier Province) and Balochistan, where it had already been carrying out its humanitarian work in connection with the armed violence. Within about six weeks from now, the ICRC's assistance will have reached around 1.4 million people in some of the worst-affected areas. While floodwaters have begun to recede in certain areas, people trapped by flooding are still being evacuated in southern parts of the country.

The floods have destroyed not only homes but livelihoods. Agriculture is the principal means of support of approximately 80 per cent of flood-affected people, who have now lost all their assets. The disaster struck at a critical time, just prior to the rice, maize, vegetable and sugarcane harvests and the winter wheat planting season.

" There is a major gap between the scale of the needs and our ability to address them, " said Mr de Maio. " The second phase of our response will involve a distribution of seed and tools that will benefit over 300,000 people who have lost everything. It will enable them to take advantage of the next agricultural production season and begin to resume a normal life. We will also repair or reconstruct water systems and health-care facilities in the areas hardest hit. "

Mines and unexploded ordnance carried by floodwaters into areas that had been considered free of weapons have so far caused 11 casualties in four reported incidents. The ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent have been raising awareness of the danger of unexploded munitions in the areas concerned.

Meanwhile, the ICRC continues to cater to the basic needs of nearly 200,000 people displaced in connection with recent hostilities.

The ICRC has been working in Pakistan since 1947. It worked closely with the Pakistan Red Crescent and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies when earthquakes struck Kashmir in 2005 and Balochistan in 2008. In cooperation with the Pakistan Red Crescent and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ICRC is pressing on with its relief operations in the many disaster-stricken areas. The ICRC currently has 1,340 staff working in the country, including 135 expatriates.

  For further information, please contact:
  Michael O'Brien, ICRC Pakistan, tel: +92 300 850 81 38
  Jessica Barry, ICRC Pakistan, tel: +92 302 820 97 85
  Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02

  For access to the ICRC FTP and information on available footage:
  Didier Revol, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 82 or