As the prime minister took in the scale of devastation caused by recent rains and floods in a whirlwind tour of the affected areas, disaster management authorities and the United Nations wrapped up their damage assessment and presented the first comprehensive picture of this year’s super flood.
Premier on ground
The devastation caused is far beyond what was initially presumed, the premier said during his visit to a relief camp in Sanghar.
Despite the limited resources, the government is making an all-out effort to provide relief to the affected people, he said while distributing ration sacks and mingling with camp dwellers.
Gilani said he hoped that the government will overcome this challenge with the help of philanthropists, donor agencies and the international community.
Earlier, the premier visited a Pakistan Air Force relief and medical camp in Nawabshah and directed provincial authorities to accelerate provision of food, shelter and medical facilities to flood victims in Sindh.
Directing the chief minister to ensure provision of food items to the affected people, Gilani said the government would provide them financial assistance until permanent housing has been arranged for them.
The premier directed the authorities to send medical teams, including female doctors, to the camps, especially for the treatment of women.
UN to launch appeal
The United Nations will launch an appeal for up to $400 million by Sunday (today) to help Pakistan cope with the disaster, said head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Pakistan Fawad Hussein.
Talking to the BBC, he said that the draft document regarding appeal for aid has been evaluated and will be sent to the Pakistan government.
Fawad said the government has declared 21 districts as flood-affected while the UN has prioritised 16 districts. The total population affected is about 5.4 million, including 2.4 million women and 700,000 children, he added.
Last year, the floods only hit the right bank of the Indus River while the recent floods hit both left and right banks, he added.
Meanwhile, the UN office in Geneva said its agencies are scaling up their assistance to more than five million affected people in urgent need of food, shelter, safe water and access to health services.
Elisabeth Byrs, UNOCHA’s spokesperson in Geneva, told reporters on Friday that resource mobilisation is currently a major constraint and organisations are using contingency stocks and diverting resources from early recovery programmes to meet life-saving needs.
The UN is currently finalising its emergency response plan, to be launched early next week and reviewed against evolving needs and more in-depth evaluations in a month’s time, she added.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) briefed the premier during his visit to the affected areas, and said that the rains and subsequent floods have killed almost 300, affected around six million people in 31,960 villages in all 23 districts of Sindh.
According to NDMA, the floods have fully damaged 539,899 houses while another 848,412 houses have suffered partial damage. More than 80,000 livestock have been washed away while crops including cotton, banana, dates, chili and sugarcane cultivated on 2.8 million acres have been destroyed or affected.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.