Floods in Pakistan: more than 1,280 dead, including a third of children

The cumulative death toll since June 14 rose to 1,282 on Saturday, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority reported, and nearly a third of the victims are children. On Saturday alone, there were 57 more deaths, including 25 children.

Aid agencies warn that the country’s woes are far from over and that as the disaster continues to unfold, children will be among the most vulnerable.

The flood – the result of a combination of record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in Pakistan’s northern mountains – has been described as the country’s worst ever.

At one point, more than a third of the country was under water, according to satellite images from the European Space Agency, and the government and aid organizations say 33 million people were affected.

Among them, more than three million children need urgent humanitarian assistance due to the risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition, according to UNICEF. The floods also damaged or destroyed 17,566 schools across the country, according to UNICEF, further jeopardizing children’s education after two years of Covid-related closures.

Aid agencies say that even if the floods abate, the country faces a long road to recovery.

“Survivors have to start from scratch,” said Aurélie Godet, spokeswoman for Médecins du Monde, a humanitarian aid organization that has worked in Pakistan since 1966.

“It won’t be over in two months, they need long-term help.”

The two most affected provinces are Balochistan and Sindh in southern Pakistan, where infrastructure and water supply systems have been damaged.

Calling for help from the international community, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif estimated last week that the calamity had caused more than $10 billion in damage to infrastructure, homes and farms.

A National Flood Response and Coordination Center has been set up and the World Health Organization has released $10 million to treat the injured, deliver supplies to health facilities and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. China and the UK have also pledged millions in aid to the country.
More than a million houses were damaged or destroyed, while at least 5,000 kilometers of roads were damaged, according to the disaster management authority.

On Saturday, a high-level body set up to coordinate relief efforts met for the first time in Islamabad, Reuters reported. A day earlier, the country’s largest charity, the Edhi Foundation, had urged the government to lift a years-old ban on a number of international non-governmental organizations so they could help with relief efforts, reported Reuters.

Jan Camenzind Broomby of CNN and Reuters contributed reporting.

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