This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh – to whom the quoted text can be attributed – during today’s press conference at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urgently seeking $65.8 million to help more than 650,000 refugees and members of their host communities affected by the recent devastating floods in Pakistan.
As Pakistan faces a colossal challenge in responding to this climate catastrophe, UNHCR reiterates its call for more support for the country and its people, who have generously hosted Afghan refugees for more than four decades. The extent of the monsoon’s devastation to people and infrastructure is difficult to comprehend.
According to the latest estimates, unprecedented rains and floods at the end of August left at least 1,700 people dead and 12,800 injured, including at least 4,000 children. Some 7.9 million people have been displaced by the floods, according to the latest estimates, with nearly 600,000 living in relief sites.
The provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) were the most affected, with 80 districts declared “disaster”. Of these, 41 host approximately 800,000 Afghan refugees. Most are in just four districts: Peshawar (210,000), Quetta (170,000), Nowshera (77,700) and Karachi (71,500).
Some of those affected have spoken to UNHCR about their traumatic experiences when rain and flooding took their lives in minutes. Families rushed to higher ground for protection when dams gave way and rivers overflowed. They were forced to abandon a lifetime of possessions and sleep in the open.
UNHCR’s Supplementary Appeal seeks additional funds to meet immediate needs, including protection, shelter, health, water and sanitation, and education for affected refugees and host communities . It will also contribute to the early recovery process, notably by strengthening the resilience of refugees and their host communities and rehabilitating damaged public services – schools, health and water supply.
The United Nations Comprehensive Inter-Agency Flood Response Plan, first released in early September 2022, was revised and launched on October 4 to support the Government of Pakistan in its relief and early recovery activities until May 2023 UNHCR’s supplementary appeal will continue until December 2023.
UNHCR remains alarmed by the conditions on the ground. It could take months for floodwaters to recede in the hardest hit areas, as fears grow over threats of waterborne diseases and the safety of millions of affected people, 70% of whom are children. women and children.
Pre-existing inequalities have been exacerbated by the floods and protection risks have increased. UNHCR leads protection activities and ensures that critical needs are identified and addressed through prevention, risk mitigation and other services by specialized actors. These include measures to address gender-based violence and child protection risks. A priority remains timely aid for the most vulnerable and ensuring it is delivered in a safe and dignified manner, including building partner capacity and strengthening accountability to affected communities, with awareness raising on the sexual exploitation and complaint mechanisms.
From the start, UNHCR supported the government-led response in affected areas with high concentrations of refugees. In September 2022, UNHCR delivered over 10,000 tons of goods in less than four weeks from our warehouses and suppliers in Pakistan and our regional and global emergency stocks in Termez and Dubai, dispatching some 300 trucks and 23 airlifts .
Together with the Pakistani disaster management authorities, UNHCR completed the first phase of its response, including assisting flood-affected families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh provinces with tents, solar lanterns , plastic sheeting, hygiene kits and other vital items.
Pakistan is on the front line of the climate emergency. It is essential that the response incorporates prevention and preparedness measures to avoid and minimize the effects of extreme weather events in the future and help build resilience, especially among the most vulnerable communities. Environmental sustainability will remain central to the response, including connecting schools, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and health centers to renewable energy sources.
For more information on this subject, please contact:
- In Islamabad, Aoife McDonnell, [email protected], +92 3202 538 941
- In Islamabad, Qaiser Khan Afridi, [email protected] +92 300 5018696
- In Bangkok (regional), Babar Baloch, [email protected], +66 80 086 5611
- In Geneva, Matthew Saltmarsh, [email protected]; +41 79 967 99 36
- In New York, Kathryn Mahoney, [email protected], +1 347 574 6552