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£30m needed for children who survived Pakistan floods

A year after the worst floods in Pakistan’s history, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it faces an aid shortfall of £30m.

The flooding, which started in July 2010, caused one of the biggest disasters the world has seen, affecting at least 18m people, almost half of them children.

Families across the country lost everything after fleeing their homes. Thousands of schools were destroyed and vast areas of farmland were wiped out.

And today, as millions of survivors still struggle to get their lives back on track, UNICEF said it needs £30m to help children and families there and an extra £4m to stave off malnutrition. The most badly under-funded areas of its aid work are in water, sanitation, hygiene, education, and health, it said.

“The impact of the floods will continue to be felt for years to come, especially by children who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of disaster,” the agency said.

“When displaced children and their families returned to their areas of origin, they found homes, livelihoods, and infrastructure – including health facilities and almost 10,000 schools – damaged or destroyed.”

The floods also exposed Pakistan’s existing problems of chronic malnutrition, unhealthy sanitation practices and low primary school enrolment, especially for girls, UNICEF said. “If children remain untreated for malnutrition, for example, they are more susceptible to disease as well as life-long stunting and cognitive impairment,” it warned.

“Today, there is still much more to be done to address the underlying conditions that made these communities so vulnerable, and to help them build resilience,” said the agency’s Tony Lake.

“Together, we can turn the tide in the lives of children and families of Pakistan who have suffered so terribly.”

When the floods hit, Britain lead the global response, repairing schools, building flood-proof houses and boosting farming. And ahead of this year's monsoon, Britain is setting up 12 disaster management centres across Pakistan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh regions that were worst affected, last year. The units will stock emergency items such as tents and blankets for 35,000 people, to enable a quick response in any future disasters.

But International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said today: "Much still needs to be done which is why UK aid will continue to help people in Pakistan over the coming months and into 2012. This reflects the deep friendship and longstanding bond between the UK and Pakistan - our countries are closely tied through family, business, history and culture, and we will always stand by and support each other."

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