ISLAMABAD: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said on Tuesday that more than 400 children are missing from the flood-devastated areas of the country.
“Hundreds of children are waiting to be reunited with their mothers,” NDMA Chairman Gen (Retd) Nadeem Ahmed said. Over 300 children have also lost their lives in this natural disaster, he added. “Dozens of them (children) have drowned in Sindh and Punjab,” he said, adding that the figures may rise.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Gen Ahmed said the NDMA convened an emergency meeting on separated, unaccompanied and missing children of flood victims. “We have established a Gender and Child Cell (GCC) for this purpose,” he added. Gen Ahmed said that the authority is facing enormous challenges in addressing the problems of displaced women who are searching for the bodies of their children, husbands and relatives.
Catering for their needs is most challenging, he said. “We need an exact number of children affected so that appropriate measures can be taken for their relief and early recovery,” he added.
During the meeting, Michiko Ono, Unicef’s Child Protection Specialist, said that 146 children are living with different people and no one knows when they will be reunited with their families.
“Various families have approached Unicef complaining that they have lost their children in the floods. They are seeking Unicef’s support to trace their kids in various institutions of the country to counter human trafficking, particularly of children,” she said.
Officials in the interior ministry also told the meeting that some six families had sought their help for the recovery of their 26 children. It is not known whether they are dead or alive, officials said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2010.
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