People in the Swat Valley in Northern Pakistan hit by the catastrophic floods were only just recovering from the conflict that forced them from their homes last year, said Neva Khan, Oxfam’s Country Director in Pakistan.
“We are now in a race against time to avert a public health disaster. The countryside is drowning in an ocean of contaminated water. The very young are at risk of going down with severe diarrhoea. Given the lack of food, the displacement and their vulnerability, a bout of diarrhoea could be a death sentence,” Ms Khan said.
“Oxfam is particularly worried about families in the Swat Valley because people were only just recovering from the crisis last year. People were forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and had just started to return home and rebuild some sense of normalcy – and then this happened. The floods are catastrophic.
“Those affected were already vulnerable and mostly poor and now they’ve been made homeless and in need of help once again.
“People desperately need clean water, food, shelter and healthcare.
“We had contingency supplies in country so were able to respond very quickly but lack of electricity is causing us real problems. We’re not able to pump water off the mains so have supplied generators and are doing quick fix repairs to water systems that have been destroyed.
“The rains are very heavy indeed. Whenever it rains the levels rise so fast.
“There are queues and queues of people waiting for clean drinking water. Oxfam is trucking water in mobile water tanks to reach people who have been living in contaminated sludge for days.”
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said Australians had been giving generously to the agency’s appeal, but more was still needed.
“Oxfam is appealing for $6.6 million to reach 400,000 people with clean water, sanitation kits and hygiene supplies. The agency is responding now and will also help boost recovery over the long-term,” Mr Hewett said.
Notes to editors: Oxfam staff in affected areas are available for interview.
Contact in Pakistan: Tariq Masood Malik, Media Communications Officer, +92-3085052976
email@example.com. Please note: Pakistan time is GMT+5
In Australia: Kate Thwaites, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0407 515 559
Donations can be made at www.oxfam.org.au or by calling 1800 034 034
$20 will buy one family hygiene kit (soap, washing powder, sanitary cloths, towels, oral rehydration salts, nail cutter/comb.
$24 will buy one family household kit (plastic bucket, water cooler, floor mats, waste bin, shawls, water purification)
$80 will buy tools for clearing up (shovel, pick axe, bucket, broom, wheel barrow)
Oxfam has been working in Pakistan since 1973. We support local partners and work with government authorities to improve the livelihoods of those living in poverty, and provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by disasters and conflict.