Islamabad – The Executive Directors of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today called on the international community to step up their support for the victims of the ongoing floods in Pakistan.
Anthony Lake of UNICEF and Josette Sheeran of WFP made their call following a joint visit to operations in the Muzzafargarh district of Punjab, one of the worst affected parts of the country.
"There is a triple threat unfolding as this crisis widens and deepens,” said Sheeran. “People have lost seeds, crops and their incomes leaving them vulnerable to hunger, homelessness and desperation – the situation is extremely critical. We urgently need continued and strengthened commitment to the people of Pakistan in this time of crisis.”
While in the field, the two agency heads visited a school which has been turned into an emergency relief centre, where UNICEF hygiene kits were being handed out to families hit by the floods.
They also saw a WFP food distribution that included specialised ready-to-eat foods for infants and young children, designed to prevent the early ravages of malnutrition. WFP has reached three quarters of a million children with nutritious food supplements and nearly 3 million people with a one-month food ration. Malnutrition rates in the flood zone were high before the surge of water displaced millions, leaving young children even more at risk to water-borne diseases.
“What I saw today has convinced me that we must step up our humanitarian operations to stave off a potential second wave of disease and misery for millions of families, especially the most vulnerable, children and women,” said Lake. “We are here today and for the long-term, as we plan for the early recovery phase of the operation.”
UNICEF is currently reaching around two million people with clean water every day and through hygiene supplies and assistance in sanitation, is working to prevent serious outbreaks of disease.
While WFP and UNICEF are focused on saving lives as people continue to flee the floodwaters, both agencies have already begun projects to repair tube wells and other important infrastructure, as well as assisting farmers in their first efforts to return to their land and prepare the upcoming planting season.
For Further Information:
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF/Islamabad – + 92 345 500 6502
Kristen Elsby, UNICEF/Islamabad – + 92 300 500 2595