UNICEF: Millions of children in Pakistan need urgent support
By Andrea Rego
This year, monsoon rains claimed the lives of 87 children across Pakistan and have worsened the condition of flood-affected communities still recovering from last year’s calamity.
According to UNICEF Pakistan, over 1.5 million children require lifesaving nutrition interventions in districts across the nation.
On 25 August, UNICEF issued a warning stating “millions of children continue to need humanitarian assistance and access to essential services.”
The humanitarian aid organization has estimated that over 8 million people, half of whom are children continue to live without access to safe water in flood-affected areas.
A year since the devastating floods that led Pakistan to declare a national state of emergency, to this day, recovery and rehabilitation efforts are underfunded. While UNICEF had appealed for 173.5 million USD to provide life-saving support, only 57 percent had been funded.
The children of Pakistan forgotten
In a statement, Abdullah Fadil, the UNICEF Representative in Pakistan said, “Vulnerable children living in flood-affected areas have endured a horrific year.”
Children experienced the deaths of loved ones, lost their homes and schools and as monsoon batters the country again, fear of a climate disaster persists among the people.
“Recovery efforts continue, but many remain unreached, and the children of Pakistan risk being forgotten,” said Mr. Fadil.
Waters recede but troubles remain
Affecting 33 million people, last year, the floods had submerged one-third of the country, damaging or destroying vital infrastructure including schools, health facilities and water systems.
Even before the floods, many children were already out of school, malnutrition was increasing at an alarming rate and access to safe drinking water and sanitation was extremely low.
Assessing the situation, UNICEF called on the Government of Pakistan and partners to increase and sustain basic social services for children and families. It is necessary to build or revive climate-resilient systems to “bridge equity gaps and reduce vulnerability to climate shocks”.
“We cannot forget the children of Pakistan. The flood waters have gone, but their troubles remain, in this climate volatile region,” said Mr. Fadil.
UNICEF’s outreach efforts
With support from the international community, UNICEF and its partners have reached 3.6 million people with primary health care services, since August 2022.
In areas where water networks were damaged, access to safe water was enabled for 1.7 million people and around 545,000 children and caregivers received mental health and psychosocial support.
Over the course of a year, UNICEF managed to screen 2.1 million children for severe acute malnutrition and over 172,000 children were admitted to hospitals for life-saving treatment.
Yet the needs to recover from the effects of the catastrophic floods continue to outrun the resources required to respond.
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