Caritas Aids 20 Million Pakistani Flood Victims

Appeals for Emergency Relief as Disaster Worsens

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, AUG. 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- An estimated 20 million Pakistanis have been affected by the worst flooding in that region in 80 years. Caritas is appealing for aid from the international community.

The death count is already at 2,000, and it is expected to rise after aid workers are able to access and assess the damage in remote villages of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visited the region on Sunday and stated that it is the worst disaster he has ever seen.

Flooding from heavy monsoon rains that began in July has stricken one fifth of the country’s land. Thousands have been injured, and millions have lost their homes, food stores, and livelihoods.

On Sunday, 20% of the requested $460 million needed for initial emergency relief had been raised.

Caritas is among those groups appealing for aid for the Pakistani people.

Anila Gill, national executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan, stated, “The priority is to ensure people have food, water, shelter and medical help.”

She continued: “There are so many people who are in grave difficulty.

“It’s such a traumatic situation for those who have lost everything and who have to rely on others even for a drink of water.”

Outbreak

The lack of clean drinking water has led to an outbreak of gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and other diseases. On Saturday, the first case of cholera was reported.

Caritas is working to distribute food, provide clean water, shelter and hygiene facilities.

As well, the aid agency is putting together a plan to help reconstruct infrastructure such as roads and bridges, which were already weakened by conflict in that region and were swept away by the floods. In this way, aid workers will be able to access remote villages.

Caritas medical camps are preparing to provide emergency medical treatment, immunization and vaccination services to some 8,000 people for the prevention of epidemic waterborne diseases.

The aid agency is also paying particular attention to helping vulnerable women and children affected by the disaster to protect them from falling victim to crime.

More flooding is expected as rains continue in that region, giving a greater urgency to the relief workers.

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