31 Aug 2010
At the end of July, heavy rains triggered both flash floods and riverine floods in several parts of Pakistan, resulting in loss of life, widespread displacement and damage.
An estimated 800,000 people in need across the country are only accessible by air. More helicopters are required to reach ‘huge numbers of increasingly desperate people with life-saving relief’ according to the World Food Programme (WFP), which leads the logistics operations for the humanitarian community.
After the one month mark from the onset of the floods, more areas are being freshly flooded. Over the last few days, more than one million people have been displaced in Sindh Province by new flooding. Reproductive health remains a significant concern. According to WHO, an estimated half a million flood-affected women are expected to give birth during the coming six months.
“These unprecedented floods pose unprecedented logistical challenges, and this requires an extraordinary effort by the international community”, said John Holmes, Emergency Relief Coordinator. The flood waters have washed away vital access roads and bridges, which is of particular concern in the Swat Valley in the north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPK), as well as in the mountainous areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
In parts of the country’s central and southern provinces of Punjab and Sindh, where the Indus River is bursting its banks, several locations have also been surrounded by water and are currently unreachable by road. “In northern areas that are cut off, markets are short of vital supplies, and prices are rising sharply. People are in need of food staples to survive”, said Marcus Prior of the World Food Programme (WFP). “There is currently no other way to reach them and we need at least 40 additional heavy-lift helicopters, working at full capacity.”
As envisaged in the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan (PIFERP), the helicopters would be used to transport shelter materials, medical supplies, and other relief items, in addition to food. “Last week, we were able to reach an isolated community in Mata Kabal, located in the remote Swat Valley, to deliver tents and essential household goods. These people were totally cut off from the rest of the world and in dire need”, said Billie Bierling from UNHCR.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan has already provided WFP with 12 helicopters for urgent life-saving operations, and on 22 August, WFP deployed three heavy lift helicopters to add to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) capacity in Pakistan.
See the latest situation reports for an update on the situation, impact, response and funding for the Pakistan floods disaster.