Children are sitting on a charpoy in a flood-hit area. Photo: UNICEF/file

Over 3m children at risk amid devastating floods in Pakistan, warns UNICEF

by Pakistan News
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Children are sitting on a charpoy in a flood-hit area. Photo: UNICEF/file 

ISLAMABAD: Stressing the need for humanitarian assistance, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that more than three million children were at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the ongoing devastating floods in Pakistan.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, UNICEF said that it was working with the government and non-government partners to respond to the urgent needs of children and families in affected areas.

‘Over 350 children died’

Over 1,100 people including over 350 children have lost their lives, and a further 1,600 have been injured in the flood-related incidents, the UNICEF noted, adding that over 287,000 houses have been fully, and 662,000 partially, destroyed.

Some major rivers have breached their banks and dams overflowed, destroying homes, farms and critical infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and public health facilities.

Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF representative in Pakistan, said, “When disasters hit, children are always among the most vulnerable. These floods have already taken a devastating toll on children and families, and the situation could become even worse. UNICEF is working closely with the government and other partners to ensure that children affected get the critical support they need as soon as possible.”

Floods jeopardize children’s education

After two years of pandemic school closures in the last few years, children once again risk further disruption to their learning, in areas where one-third of girls and boys were already out-of-school before the crisis, UNICEF said.

“17,566 schools have been damaged/destroyed, further jeopardizing the education of children,” it added.

‘Perilous humanitarian situation expected’

Cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been reported from the flood-affected areas. They affect populations which are very vulnerable – 40% of children already suffered from stunting, caused by chronic undernutrition, before the floods hit, read the statement.

The perilous humanitarian situation is expected to continue to worsen in the days and weeks ahead as heavy rains continue in regions already underwater, warned UNICEF.

‘Climate hotspot’

According to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI), Pakistan is a known ‘climate hotspot’ and country where children are considered ‘extremely high risk’ to the impacts of climate change, ranking 14th out of 163 CCRI-ranked countries and regions, placing Pakistan in the ‘Extremely high risk’ classification category in the Index.

Children in ‘Extremely high risk’ countries face a deadly combination of exposure to multiple climate and environmental shocks combined with high levels of underlying child vulnerability, due to inadequate essential services, such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education warned the UNICEF. 

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