“Super floods” in Pakistan have left 3.4 million children in need of “immediate, life-saving assistance,” UNICEF said.
The floods – caused by record monsoon rains and described by a minister as “the” worst humanitarian disaster in a decade” – affected a total of 16 million children, UNICEF delegate Abdullah Fadil in Pakistan said after his visit to the southern province of Sindh this week.
That estimate came as the country’s National Disaster Management Authority updated the death toll from the floods since mid-June to 1,545 people, of which 552 were children.
Meanwhile, officials in the country are warning that the toll is likely to rise as too few deaths are reported and diseases such as dengue fever rise.
Azra Pechuho, health minister for the southern province of Sindh – one of the worst affected areas where many schools and other facilities are closed, said there was now a “state of emergency” caused by the massive amount of standing water, making for the perfect breeding ground conditions for Aedes mosquitoes to spread the dengue virus.
UNICEF’s Fadil said the situation on the ground in Sindh was “beyond bleak”, with many malnourished children battling diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and dengue fever, as well as painful skin conditions.
“Girls and boys in Pakistan are paying the price for a climate disaster they did not cause,” Fadil said.
“Young children live in the open with their families with no drinking water, no food and no livelihood – exposed to a wide range of new flood-related risks and hazards,” Fadil said. Mothers, many of whom were exhausted, anemic and malnourished, were also unable to breastfeed their babies.
“Vital infrastructure … has been destroyed and damaged, including thousands of schools, water systems and health facilities,” he added.