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UNHCR launches appeal for Pakistan

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is leading humanitarian efforts to help the flood-hit communities of southern Pakistan and has appealed for 33.2 million dollars.

The money will be used to support people in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan over the next six months. UNHCR has already identified 70,000 families in desperate need of relief. UNHCR aims to provide tents, plastic sheeting and household items to these flood victims. During the weekend, thousands of tents were delivered to the districts of Badin and Thatta, which have been especially hard hit by this new flooding disaster.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has visited the flood-affected towns of Nawabshah and Sanghar in Sindh province and urged families to make their way to government relief camps where they will be provided with food and shelter. However, the BBC’s correspondent reports that some camps are already full and people are being turned away. Many of the displaced also live too far from official camp sites. With family members malnourished, frail or sick, it is impossible for groups to travel long distances. Cases of malaria and diarrhoea are increasing and over 7,000 people are reportedly being treated for snake bites. The BBC reports that many people in Sindh are angry that more has not been done to reduce the risk of flooding since last year’s disaster. Locals believe that effective drainage systems and protection projects could have saved houses and livelihoods and prevented much of the misery.

Oxfam is warning that lack of food, water, shelter and sanitation is further weakening people who have yet to fully recover from last year’s floods. Women, the elderly and children are particularly vulnerable. The charity is urging the donor community to ramp up its response to help the estimated 2.5 million people in desperate need of clean water and sanitation. With each passing day, the charity says the human suffering is multiplying.

Reuters spoke to the father of one family who had been rescued from the floodwaters by the Pakistani army. Taken by boat to a makeshift camp, Ahmed Junejo told the news agency that so far, his family had received no relief or been told where they could go to find an official camp site. Since they had lost all their goats and Mr Junejo had sold the last of their possessions, his children were now begging in the market or from passing cars. “I want to look after my family and feed them, but I cannot. I feel sick from watching my kids like this,” the distraught father said.

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