Flooding spreads to south Pakistan, hundreds of thousands evacuating villages

August 24th, 2010 - 12:53 am ICT by BNO News  

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — Hundreds of thousands of people are evacuating their inundated villages, as the massive floods in Pakistan spread to the southern province of Sindh, the United Nations (UN) said Monday.

“The situation in Sindh is of high concern. The water now is in Sindh and entire cities have been evacuated,” said Maurizio Giuliani, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“We have hundreds of thousands of people on the move [and] if we are not able to reach all those in need fast enough, there may be a spread of waterborne diseases and, of course, food shortages and lack of shelter will not contribute to improving the situation of those in need,” he added.

The OCHA reported that evacuations have been from low-lying areas of Hyderabad as the second wave of flooding moved southwards, and large parts of Jacobabad district were also evacuated during the weekend.

“We’ll only be able to know in the coming days how many people have been affected [in Sindh],” Giuliani added.

The floods, which began late last month due to heavy monsoon rains, have so far claimed 1,200 lives and destroyed homes, farmland and major infrastructure in large parts of the country. According to Government estimates, 15.4 million people are affected, with at least 6 million of them in need of food, shelter, clean water and health care.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) estimates that it requires at least 40 more heavy-lift helicopters to boost its efforts to deliver relief to large numbers of people who remain in inaccessible areas as a result of roads and bridges being washed away by the floods. On Sunday, the agency brought in three of an expected five additional helicopters into the country.

“We need more of these life-savers,” said WFP Pakistan Country Director Wolfgang Herbinger. “Helicopters are the only way to deliver supplies into many areas which is why we’re already using every aircraft currently available to us,” he added, as WFP has already reached about 1.3 million people with a one-month emergency rations of food.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the number of cases of diseases was on the rise, with more than 200,000 cases of acute diarrhea, at least 260,000 cases of skin diseases and more than 200,000 cases of acute respiratory diseases already reported in flood-affected provinces.

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