Immediate funding needed for Pakistan floods or disaster could worsen: Oxfam

Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 20 Sep 2011

While more than seven million people have been affected by the floods in Sindh since they began less than two months ago, Oxfam is urgently calling on the international donor community to speed up its response to give critical and life-saving relief to those in need.

The international aid agency warned that as the numbers of people affected continue to rise, deaths could increase and millions of futures destroyed if funding remains slow.

Oxfam’s country director in Pakistan, Neva Khan, said: “The lives of those affected by the floods is hanging in a balance. Millions still don’t have access to food, water, sanitation, shelter and healthcare. Pakistan cannot afford a slow response to this disaster. Time is of the essence if the situation is to be controlled. Every ounce of resource available must be mobilised now.”

Since the Pakistan Government’s appeal to the world community for assistance in responding to the floods, no significant funding has been provided.

The size of the UN’s $365 million emergency appeal for the people in Sindh and Balochistan provinces who have been affected by the floods shows the staggering scale of this disaster. Nine districts in Balochistan together with 22 in Sindh have been affected because of the floods.

“The number of deaths is increasing each passing day. Hundreds of thousands of people still remain trapped in flood waters awaiting rescue. Those who have managed to escape literally have to fight to get hold of the relief supplies being distributed. The amount of aid available is simply not enough. The government, international humanitarian and donor community, must gear up their response,” said Khan.

Women and children are the hardest hit. According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) at least 115,000 women in the flood affected areas are pregnant, and every day close to 400 women go into labour. At least 60 have life-threatening pregnancy complications. Their immunity against diseases has eroded drastically, and women who are already anaemic are now more prone to diseases and pregnancy complications.

As the rains continue to fall and stagnant waters become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, women and children are now more vulnerable to water and vector-borne diseases than ever. According to an estimate, more than one million children are at severe risk of contracting flood-related diseases.

“The resilience of Pakistanis has been pushed over the edge by two floods in a row. Oxfam places women and children at the heart of all its operations. We are working around the clock to ensure women and children have access to clean water and sanitation to help ward off the threat of diseases” said Khan.

Oxfam has been working in Pakistan since 1973. The 2010 floods were the worst ever in Pakistan’s recorded history, affecting 20 million people, with 1985 killed and another 2964 injured. Oxfam responded by mounting its biggest ever worldwide humanitarian response.

In the past year, Oxfam and its partners have helped 2.4 million people affected by the disaster. Our assistance included emergency search and rescue, clean water and sanitation, cash-for-work schemes and shelter.

For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or