UN expects situation to worsen in Pakistan due to floods
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, steps up support in Pakistan, following the monsoon rains and floods that affected more than 33 million people and resulted in widespread destruction.
After establishing an air bridge to deliver aid to the victims in flood-ravaged Pakistan, the United Nations warned on Tuesday that the humanitarian situation in the country was expected to get worse.
The flooding has already affected more than 33 million people and was brought on by record monsoon rains amplified by climate change. The floods resulted in at least 1,300 deaths and destroyed homes, businesses, bridges, and roads.
More than 1,460 health centers had been damaged, of which 432 were fully ruined, mostly in the southeastern province of Sindh, according to the UN's World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO and its partners have set up more than 4,500 medical camps and distributed more than 230,000 rapid tests for acute watery diarrhea, dengue, malaria, hepatitis, and chikungunya, due to the ongoing circulation of these diseases in Pakistan, alongside HIV, polio, and Covid-19.
Following the floods, "all these are at risk of getting worse", WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva, adding, "We have already received reports of increased number of cases of acute watery diarrhea, typhoid, measles, and malaria, especially in the worst-affected areas."
The spokesperson added that it was still not easy to get to areas hit by the floods, which have inundated a third of the country, an area amounting to the size of the United Kingdom.
"The situation is expected to worsen," Jasarevic warned, as mortality among newborn babies and severe acute malnutrition are expected to increase due to the disruption of services.
$1.5 million in medicines and emergency stockpiles, including tents, oral rehydration sachets, and water purification kits have been so far delivered by the WHO.
An air bridge was also launched by the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, to deliver aid from Dubai.
Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR's regional director for Asia and the Pacific, said the first four flights took off on Monday, and six others are planned, carrying mattresses, tarpaulins, and cooking utensils.
"The food insecurity is going to be huge because the crops are devastated, obviously, and the little they had in terms of livestock is also destroyed," he said.
Global warming was leading the glaciers in mountainous northern regions to melt faster than usual, aggravating the impact of heavy rain, according to Pakistan senator and federal minister for climate change, Sherry Rehman.
7,532 is the number of glaciers Pakistan has, a number that is bigger than anywhere outside the polar regions. This causes Pakistan to be one of the countries most exposed to climate change-related weather extremes.