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More than 1 million children need aid in Pakistan

The United Nations children's agency UNICEF today said more than a million children need emergency aid as the worst floods in living memory devastate Pakistan.

So far more than three million people have been affected by the floods in the north west and the death toll has climbed above 1,500, Unicef said.

Even though the rain has stopped, huge swathes of north west Pakistan are still under water.

Today rescue teams were hoping to reach about 27,000 people still cut off by the flood waters which have washed away entire villages.

Medics are now warning of the threat of disease outbreaks among the survivors, stressing that children in particular are at risk.

Dr Ahmed Farah Shadoul, from the World Health Organization said urgent action was needed to prevent disease spreading. "Specifically diarrhoeal diseases, skin problems, eye problems, malaria and fevers, and measles, especially in children."

That's why it's very essential to take all the appropriate measures to address those issues," he told the BBC.
Dr Shadoul said he had heard reports of people being bitten by snakes, and said the WHO had given out anti-venom in some areas.

Rescue teams were trying to reach 27,000 stranded people, including 1,500 tourists in the Swat Valley, where the army made a major push to flush out the Taliban last year. But their efforts are hampered with problems reaching the victims, with transport and communications links wrecked.

"We are also getting confirmation of reports about an outbreak of cholera in some areas of Swat," said Local official Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

A Save the Children aid worker in the Swat Valley said wells and springs were poisoned by floodwater. He said: "In the next few days people may run out of food and there's no clean water for them."

Some of the survivors complain that the government has been slow to respond to the crisis and several hundred people protested in the city of Peshawar, where people crammed into temporary shelters.

In Nowsheara, the worst hit area, flood victim, Faisal Islam, told the Associated Press: "We need tents. Just look around. This is the only shirt I have. Everything else is buried."

Governments around the world have pledged millions of dollars in aid.

The army says the initial rescue operation may be over in 10 days, but rebuilding the damaged areas could take more than six months.

Hayley attribution




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