ISLAMABAD — A feeble international response to Pakistan’s second major flooding crisis in two years has left millions of people at serious risk of malnutrition and disease, aid groups warned Thursday.
The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), a network of the 41 largest international charities in the country, called on the international community and Pakistan to take urgent steps with the next monsoon season months away.
“With funds drying up, millions will find it extremely hard to make it through the next few months. Donors and the government of Pakistan must step up their response immediately,” said Oxfam?s country director Neva Khan.
At least 2.5 million people are still without food, water, shelter, sanitation and healthcare, putting them at serious risk of malnutrition, disease and deepening poverty, said the coalition of international charities.
“The floods have exposed and deepened a food crisis in Sindh that has resulted in malnutrition rates far worse than those in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said David Wright, country director for Save the Children.
Around 43 percent of affected people are severely short of food and malnutrition levels were already well above the emergency threshold in the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan before the floods struck.
Last September, the United Nations launched an appeal for $357 million, but it has been less than 50 percent funded, the groups said.
“Six months on, the crisis seems to have been forgotten by the international community,” said Naseer Memon, chief executive of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation.
“The needs of the communities affected by the floods are still enormous with women, children, the elderly and disabled particularly vulnerable,” said Aine Fay, chair of the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum.
Tens of thousands of people are still displaced in flood-affected areas, while others have returned home to little or nothing.
The floods have devastated agriculture and hundreds of thousands of farmers are struggling to recover. A quarter of farmers missed the planting season late last year, because their land was flooded or they did not receive help in time.