UNICEF: Millions of Pakistani Children in Flood-Affected Areas at Risk of Dying

UNICEF warns some 4 million children living near contaminated and stagnant waters in flood-affected districts of Pakistan are fighting for survival.
FILE - Families displaced by floods gather around a paramedic at a makeshift medical camp set in Dadu district, Sindh province in Pakistan on Sept. 27, 2022.
FILE - Families displaced by floods gather around a paramedic at a makeshift medical camp set in Dadu district, Sindh province in Pakistan on Sept. 27, 2022.VOA

GENEVA — UNICEF warns some 4 million children living near contaminated and stagnant waters in flood-affected districts of Pakistan are fighting for survival.

The U.N. children’s fund reports about 1.6 million children already were suffering from severe acute malnutrition and another 6 million from stunting before last year’s disastrous floods struck Pakistan.

The UNICEF representative in Pakistan, Abdullah Fadil, said the situation has likely worsened since then, putting many children at risk of dying. Speaking from the capital, Islamabad, he said 4 million children are facing a bitterly cold winter without heat and warm protective clothing.

Fadil notes families still are living under scraps of plastic in freezing conditions. He said children also are at risk of deadly diseases such as malaria and cholera in flooded areas.

“We feared initially malaria to be the biggest cause of death because of the stagnant water,” Fadil said. “Because we were able to provide bed nets and malaria medicines the crisis was averted. We estimate the mortality rates to be about three times higher than in normal times.”

Pakistan faces some of the world’s highest neo-natal deaths. The World Health Organization reports sub-Saharan Africa has the highest newborn mortality rate, followed by central and southern Asia.
Internally displaced flood-affected children attend a mobile school class near makeshift camp in the flood-hit area of Dera Allah Yar in Jaffarabad district of Balochistan province on Jan. 9, 2023.
Internally displaced flood-affected children attend a mobile school class near makeshift camp in the flood-hit area of Dera Allah Yar in Jaffarabad district of Balochistan province on Jan. 9, 2023.VOA

Fadil said UNICEF also helped avert a cholera epidemic by providing clean drinking water and lifesaving treatment. Beyond health, he said education is a major area of concern. He noted 24,000 schools were washed away by the floods.

“We have established close to 1,000 temporary learning centers where we have about 90,000 children, a third of whom are actually first-time students,” Fadil said. “Pakistan has about 23 million children who are already out of school. We estimate due to the floods, an additional 2 million would have left and been out of school.”

Despite the ongoing situation, Fadil said UNICEF has received less than half the $173 million it needs to help millions of children recover from this climate-induced catastrophe. He said vulnerable communities require reliable access to health care, nutrition, education, protection and other essential services. (HN/VOA)

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FILE - Families displaced by floods gather around a paramedic at a makeshift medical camp set in Dadu district, Sindh province in Pakistan on Sept. 27, 2022.
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