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Pakistan: significantly increased aid for flood victims

24-08-2010 Operational Update

As more areas in the south succumb to the flooding, the ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent have increased the geographical scope of their food distributions, and continue to restore water supplies and provide health care in the north-western areas where floodwaters are slowly receding.

  ©Reuters/T. Wimborne    
Boys wait for an evening food distribution at a roadside centre for flood victims near Nowshera.    
  ©ICRC/J. Barry    
  Pir Sabaq village, Nowshera. Massive flooding ruined many people’s houses and possessions, destroyed a foot bridge that crossed the nearby Kabul river, and tore away sections of a road.    
  ©ICRC/J. Barry    
  The PRCS medics set up their mobile clinic in an undamaged house. The floods contaminated the village’s water sources, and many people are sick.    
  ©ICRC/J. Barry    
  Pir Sabaq village, Nowshera. Village women receive information about personal and environmental hygiene from a PRCS health promoter.   
  ©ICRC/J. Barry    
Near Baykhanae village, Buner district Khyber.ICRC assessment of a micro hydro-electric plant badly damaged during days of torrential rain that cut off the power supply to the four villages which the station served.    

" As floodwaters further inundate the low-lying southern provinces of the Punjab and Sindh, and more and more people require assistance, the ICRC has decided to expand the relief operations it is carrying out with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, " said Pascal Cuttat, the head of the ICRC delegation in Pakistan. " Given the enormous demand for the limited stocks of food in the country, we are scaling up our capacity to package, deliver and distribute relief goods. The ICRC will also step up its support for the Pakistan Red Crescent's efforts to meet the health, water and shelter needs of flood victims. "

In the past week, the joint ICRC-Pakistan Red Crescent relief operation has expanded into southern Pakistan, where aid was distributed to 14,000 people in the Punjab and a delivery of one-month food rations to 42,000 people in Sindh is being prepared. This brings to more than 200,000 the number of flood victims who have received ICRC-provided one-month food rations from the Pakistan Red Crescent. A further 125,000 people have received shelter and household items. Food distributions continue in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for those who were displaced by fighting in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas'Orakzai Agency. " The gap between the needs and the response – or even the planned response – to them remains enormous, however, " said Mr Cuttat.

Preventing and treating disease

Food is not the flood victims'only need; adequate suppl ies of clean drinking water are also required to limit any outbreak of water-borne disease. As floodwaters recede in the north-west, ICRC water engineers and their Pakistan Red Crescent counterparts are providing enhanced access to clean drinking water, either by sanitizing existing supplies or by re-drilling boreholes. The water engineers have been carrying out this work in the Swat and Buner districts over the past few days, while also maintaining the sole source of clean drinking water in the southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa city of Dera Ismail Khan.

More than 50,000 people have received treatment – many of them for gastro-intestinal ailments – in Pakistan Red Crescent health-care units in the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since the start of August. Diarrhoea treatment units remain busy while preparing for the anticipated spike in water-borne disease. The ICRC is providing support for Pakistan Red Crescent health-care units, diarrhoea treatment units and a number of district hospitals offering services to flood victims.

Information on the need for good hygiene practices is reaching the public via national Urdu and Pashto print and electronic media.

Expanding logistics operations

The increased scope of ICRC activities relies on well-executed logistics planning. " Almost 500 tonnes of emergency shelter and household items have now been airlifted to the ICRC's Peshawar logistics base from regional stocks in East Africa and the Middle East, as we continue to expand our operation as quickly as we can to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of victims, " said Thomas Riess, the ICRC's logistics coordinator in Pakistan. " Flooding of major routes south from Peshawar could a ffect our ability to deliver aid to the south of the country, so we have opened a second aid pipeline through the southern port city of Karachi, and this enables us to continue to support Pakistan Red Crescent relief operations in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. "

Raising awareness among flood victims of the dangers of mines

The national Urdu and Pashto print and electronic media are informing the public about the dangers posed by mines and unexploded ordnance that move with the floods. The risks will only increase as floodwaters recede and people attempt to return to their homes.

Restoring family links

ICRC and Pakistan Red Crescent personnel have gone from village to village in the north-west to inform people that tracing services are available to help them find missing loved ones. More than 300 people, many of whom were made destitute by the floods and could not afford to stay in touch with family members, have now taken advantage of free telephone calls. Satellite phones ensure that even people in remote places can contact other family members.

The ICRC has been working in Pakistan since 1947. It worked alongside 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, the ICRC is pressing on with its relief operations in the many disaster-stricken areas. The ICRC currently has 1,340 sta ff working in the country, including 135 expatriates.


For further information, please contact:
  Michael O'Brien, ICRC Pakistan, tel: +92 300 850 8138
  Jessica Barry, ICRC Pakistan, tel: +92 302 820 97 85
  Sitara Jabeen, ICRC Pakistan, tel: +92 300 850 56 93
  Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02