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Shortfall in funding for relief efforts in Pakistan’s Sindh province

Following the flooding which has once again brought misery to Sindh province in Pakistan, aid agencies are struggling to provide help to all those affected due to a shortage of funds.

Agencies such as Oxfam, Save the Children, Care and Acted, say that 9 million people across the province are in need of support, facing the threat of disease and acute malnutrition. The United Nations has asked for 357 million dollars in emergency funds for relief efforts in Sindh, but so far less than a quarter of this amount has been raised. Unless more money is forthcoming, aid groups warn they may soon have to end their relief operations.

Winter is fast approaching and millions of Pakistanis in Sindh province are without proper shelter after the floods washed away or damaged dwellings for a second year running. At least four of the 22 districts in Sindh province are still submerged under water, causing around 800,000 people to remain displaced, living in camps or on high ground.

Aid organisations active in the region estimate that 3 million people are in need of emergency food assistance. This year’s floods have washed away crops - over two-thirds of the harvest has been destroyed in 13 districts of the province – and many families are without adequate food. The shortfall in funding means that emergency supplies could run out in a matter of weeks. The Pakistan country director for Oxfam has said that two months into the crisis, millions are “still without the basics”. Therefore, if relief operations stop, the lives of 2 million adults and 3 million children will be put at risk.

Agencies also want to continue providing clean water, sanitation and health care supplies. But again resources are stretched and officials are extremely concerned about the spread of disease. Dengue fever, malaria and acute respiratory infections are already proving a threat. And the very young are particularly vulnerable. The immunity of children in the region is already low, with malnutrition rates in some areas running at record levels among the under-fives.

This year’s floods have caused the deaths of at least 430 people and the situation in Sindh is proving even more disastrous than last year. However, with donor fatigue, the global economic crisis and other causes such as the East African famine requiring donations, money is proving hard to find. In addition, aid agencies believe Pakistan’s image in the global community is currently suffering from the perception that the country is a haven for Islamist militants. But if more funding cannot be found and flood-victims are left to fend for themselves, the number of deaths in Sindh province will certainly rise much higher.

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