For Immediate Release
Pakistan’s Humanitarian Forum Calls for Urgent International Support
disaster in the country's history, Pakistan's government has requested
international support. The government has suspended expenditures from
its already meager development budget, and shifted its limited resources
to the relief effort. The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) urges the
international community to play its part in meeting the immediate needs
of millions of Pakistanis, as well as tens of thousands of Afghan
refugees, and also warns that without long-term funding, rebuilding this
devastated country will prove virtually impossible.
Tammy Hasselfeldt, current chair of the PHF, says: "The international
response to the disaster has been too small to even begin to
effectively address the needs of survivors. The most urgent priority is
to ensure that safe water as well as medicines are available, food
supplies are restored and transportation networks fixed to accelerate
the delivery of desperately needed aid."
Over 14 million people have been affected by the disaster.
Looming health crisis
With water sources in many areas completely devastated, already
vulnerable men, women and children are being forced to drink
contaminated floodwater and risk life-threatening diseases. The
incidence of acute watery diarrhoea has escalated with frightening speed
in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, the Punjab and Baluchistan, and if not
contained swiftly, could lead to outbreaks of disease and acute
malnutrition. An already weak health system was also hard hit by the
crisis. More than 100 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed
by the floods, and those that are functional are inaccessible to many
due to the extensive damage to roads and bridges.
Education in jeopardy
Over 2000 schools have been damaged by the floods, and several
hundred are being used as shelters. The education of Pakistan's
children is in jeopardy. Opening temporary schools and reconstructing
those that have been damaged is of utmost importance to avoid a serious
interruption in the education of Pakistani children.
Economy at risk
The disaster has compounded Pakistan's food security crisis, as
families throughout the country have lost food supplies, homes,
livestock, crops and livelihoods. The Government of Pakistan will need
substantial donor support to enable food security for millions. The
damage to major crops including cotton, sugarcane and rice could result
in lower textile exports and higher sugar and rice prices. With 45% of
the country's labour force employed in agriculture, losses in this
sector will likely have a spill-over effect on the entire country.
Long-term rebuilding must go hand-in-hand with immediate action
The initial damage assessment estimates the cost of relief and early recovery at around $3.5 billion.
Substantial funding for reconstruction of homes, schools, health
facilities and infrastructure will be required in the coming weeks and
months as Pakistan comes to terms with this colossal disaster. The
reconstruction of bridges, roads and other economic infrastructure could
Experience from the 2005 earthquake shows that rehabilitation
mechanisms must be established in parallel to the relief effort. The
national economy was able to quickly recover from the earthquake, but
the devastation caused by the floods could be much more difficult for
the economy to absorb. There is a need for a faster and more
substantial relief effort, together with a serious commitment towards
rehabilitation and recovery.
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