ISLAMABAD, 7 September 2010 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency has issued shelter supplies to more than 90,000 families as the agency works to meet the needs of people left homeless amidst Pakistan’s on-going monsoon-flooding.
In the last five weeks UNHCR has issued more than 48,000 all-weather family tents and 165,000 sheets of plastic tarpaulin sufficient to shelter more than 748,000 people as it works with partner agencies to rush relief aid to some of the millions of people made homeless by the floods.
Meanwhile, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie arrived in Pakistan today to meet people affected by the floods and to highlight the urgent need for help. Ms. Jolie, who is visiting as the personal envoy of UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, is travelling to affected communities and meeting with people involved in the relief efforts
Continued flooding in many areas of southern Pakistan is creating new challenges for relief efforts. Authorities ordered the evacuation of parts of western Sindh Province over the weekend as flood waters engulfed ommunities in Dadu District.
“Pakistan remains in the midst of a massive humanitarian crisis as flooding continues across vast areas,” said Mengesha Kebede, UNHCR representative to Pakistan.
UNHCR has diverted 10,000 plastic tarpaulins to Dadu from Sukkur, elsewhere in Sindh Province to respond to shelter urgent needs of thousands of newly displaced people. It sent an emergency team including a site planner to the area on Sunday to help local authorities plan for temporary camps to shelter displaced people. Additional items are being sent to Sukkur to help meets needs there.
“We are working to reach communities in northern Pakistan where waters are receding while new crises emerge as flooding affects the south of the country,” Mr Kebede said. “Needs are likely to increase in the coming weeks as flood waters recede while homeless people may suffer from illnesses.”
Elsewhere in Pakistan, some 2 million people are in need of assistance in Balochistan, Pakistan’s poorest province. A UNHCR team reports that Jaffarabad city in the east of the province remains under 6-7 feet of water.
Across Pakistan more than 5,000 school buildings and make-shift open air encampments are currently home to more than 1.3 million displaced people. As flooding in some areas engulfs new communities, the bloated rivers are forming massive stagnate lakes. Based on the 2007 floods that remained for up to year, many displaced people may not be able to return home until next year.
“Shelter, water and sanitation needs are significant in many of the make-shift camps, as well as medical aid and food needs,” UNHCR’s Kebede said. “We are also receiving some alarming reports of sexual harassment in temporary sites as many women and children are alone since many men remain back in their home areas monitoring property and livestock.
More than 1.25 million homes are reported as damaged or destroyed throughout Pakistan.
UNHCR is seeking $120 million to support shelter needs and provide family kits of cooking materials, bedding, sanitary items, jerry cans, buckets and other goods for 2.1 million people. The agency expects to increase its funding appeal in the coming days as assessments indicate more help is needed.
The UN refugee agency has so far spent more than $53 million on various relief items and will airlift 100,000 mosquito nets from its regional stockpile in Dubai this week.