Over 3 million children face health risks in flood-hit Pakistan

Islamabad: Amid multiple crises already looming in the wake of devastating floods in Pakistan, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has warned that more than three million children are facing health risks, media reports said.

“Torrential monsoon rains have triggered the most severe flooding in Pakistan’s recent history, washing away villages and leaving more than three million children in need of humanitarian assistance and at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition,” a report issued by the global body for children’s rights said, Geo News reported.

It said that at least 33 million people, of which approximately 16 million are children, have been affected by this year’s heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan, bringing devastating rains, floods and landslides.

As per the report, over 350 children have lost their lives and 1,600 others were injured. 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.

Apart from the casualties, the people in flood-hit areas are resorting to open defecation and drinking unsafe water as 30 per cent of water systems are estimated to have been damaged, further increasing the risk of disease outbreaks, Geo News reported.

UNICEF underscored that a potential outbreak of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases poses a huge risk to children, 40 per cent of whom already suffered from stunting, caused by chronic undernutrition before the floods hit.

It also drew attention towards the damage incurred to the education infrastructure which further jeopardised the children’s access to education. It said that 17,566 schools have reportedly been damaged.

“When disasters hit, children are always among the most vulnerable,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan.

With the floods already taken a devastating toll on children and families, he feared that situation could further aggravate, Geo News reported.


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