Disease, hunger kill 17 flood survivors in Pakistan

August 31st, 2010 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 31 (DPA) At least 17 flood victims, including nine children, have died from disease and hunger in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, officials and media reports said Tuesday.
Authorities have struggled to supply food, clean water, shelter and medicine to many of the more than 17 million people displaced by the worst floods the county has ever seen. UN aid organisations are also assisting in relief activities, but the process has been slow.

Aaj television reported Tuesday that 16 flood survivors had died from the waterborne disease gastroenteritis at relief camps in the Kahmoor and Larkana districts in the previous 24 hours.

One child also starved to death at Thatta district’s Makli graveyard, where hundreds of people were taking shelter, the report said.

Khair Mohammad Kaloro, director of operations at Sindh’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority, confirmed “there have been some deaths because of gastroenteritis” but downplayed the risk of a major outbreak of waterborne diseases.

“There are more than 2,800 government-run relief camps where 900,000 people are staying,” Kaloro said. “We are providing them medical aid. Those who died were carrying these diseases when they reached the camps. They did not get these diseases at the camps.”

UNICEF said 8 million children have been affected by the flooding and 3.5 million of them are in need of immediate aid to survive the catastrophe.

Doctors Without Borders warned of more deaths and infections caused by dirty water.

Tankred Stoebe, who is working for the aid group in Pakistan, said more than a quarter-million people were also suffering from skin infections and malaria cases were increasing, but neither were usually deadly.

The five weeks of flooding, triggered by monsoon rains, has submerged one-fifth of Pakistan and killed more than 1,600 people.

Although the deadly waters of the Indus River began Monday to recede in Sindh, they inundated Jati, where about 400,000 people live.

Residents in Thatta, a historical city in Sindh, were returning to their homes, days after the authorities managed to save it from floods.

“Life is returning to normal in Thatta,” Kaloro said.

But in many other areas, the return of survivors to destroyed and damaged homes and swamped streets would be a difficult process.

Pakistan has estimated that rebuilding infrastructure and helping flood victims with the recovery would require billions of dollars.

The United Nations has so far received $325 million after a $460-million aid appeal. The international community has also made direct donations and pledges to Pakistan, taking the total funds to $1 billion.

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