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Pakistan: never-ending flooding still affecting millions in waterlogged southern provinces

16-09-2010 Operational Update

As the media coverage of other world events overtakes that of Pakistan's record flooding, the worst of the crisis is only just unfolding in the populous southern province of Sindh and in the adjacent province of Balochistan.

  ©Reuters/Athar Hussain    
Dadu, some 300 kms from Karachi, Pakistan. Flood victims take their belongings with them as they leave their village close to Manchar Lake, where flood levels have risen.    
The Pakistan Red Crescent Society and the ICRC are working together to assess the needs of people affacted by floods in Shikarpur and Jacobabad, Sindh.    
A Pakistan Red Crescent volunteer distributes food and hygiene items to flood-affected families at Jumu Agham in Larkana district, Sindh.    
Jumu Agham in Larkana district, Sindh. A Pakistan Red Crescent volunteer distributing food items supplied by the ICRC to flood victims.    

Receding floodwaters and the tail end of the monsoon season have brought some respite to the north of Pakistan, where those displaced by flooding are now returning in greater numbers to witness the devastation wrought on their homes and fields by the floods. In the south, it is a very different story: continuing rain and receding northern floodwaters are causing ever-greater destruction in Sindh and Balochistan.

" Sindh is home to seven million of the estimated 21 million people affected by the flooding, explained Peter Lick, head of the ICRC office in the Sindhi capital, Karachi. " More than one million people displaced by floodwaters are living in camps, with host families, or along areas of high ground. Many of the estimated four million people who need humanitarian assistance are yet to receive it, and water levels continue to rise in the low-lying delta of the Indus River, through which all floodwater must flow to reach the sea. Almost one million more people in villages astride threatened levee banks and dams are considered to be at high risk of further flooding. "

In less populous but heavily flood-affected Balochistan, a similar scenario is being played out. Some 600,000 displaced people are in need of humanitarian assistance and entire villages in the east of Balochistan remain heavily inundated, with some still completely cut off. As clean drinking water is a critical requirement for flood victims, the ICRC is urgently assessing the feasibility of establishing a water treatment plant at Dera Allah Yaar, in eastern Balochistan.

" When floodwaters threatened to cut access to southern areas from the ICRC logistics hub in Peshawar, the ICRC decided to establish a second distribution centre in Karachi, " said Thomas Riess, the ICRC's head of logistics in Pakistan. " The Karachi hub is now fully functional. It enabled the ICRC to provide food rations for 15,000 Sindhi flood victims in Larkana in the last week, and food rations for a further 21,000 people have been dispatched from Karachi this week for distribution by the Pakistan Red Crescent Society in flood-affected Jacobabad, in northern Sindh. "

" In addition, more than 1,000 tonnes of shelter materials and cooking and hygiene items have now been delivered to Pakistan by air from ICRC emergency stocks in other regions, " said Mr Riess.

The ICRC has already provided one-month food rations and hygiene and household items for over 70,000 people for distribution by the Pakistan Red Crescent in Balochistan. One-month food rations are being prepared for a further 280,000 Balochistan flood victims.

" In addition to what we are supplying in Balochistan, the ICRC is committed to providing one-month food rations for distribution by the Pakistan Red Crescent to 350,000 people in Sindh and the Punjab, " said André Paquet, deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Islamabad. " This aid for southern areas constitutes half of the total ICRC commitment to support 1.4 million Pakistani flood victims. It represents a significant and flexible response by the ICRC and our Pakistan Red Crescent partners to the needs of the substantial number of flood victims in Pakistan's south. "

In the meantime, the ICRC continues to provide food rations for almost 200,000 people displaced by fighting in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and significant medical support for Pakistan Red Crescent health-care units and diarrhoea treatment centres in several areas across the country's north-west.

The ICRC has restored links between th e members of more than 750 families dispersed by the floods, and has launched a campaign to warn flood-affected communities of the threat posed by the movement of mines and other unexploded devices in floodwaters.

In cooperation with the Pakistan Red Crescent and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ICRC continues its relief operations in the many disaster-stricken areas.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Michael O'Brien, ICRC Pakistan, tel: +92 300 850 8138  

 Sitara Jabeen, ICRC Pakistan, tel: + 92 300 850 5693  

 Peter Lick, ICRC Karachi, tel: +  92 302 811 0580  

 Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02