New York: An estimated 166,000 people in Pakistan remain displaced six months after last year’s devastating floods and in need of assistance, the United Nations refugee agency reported today. The floods, which struck northern Pakistan at the onset of the monsoons in July and spread southwards inundating villages along the Indus River, affected some 20 million people. At the height of the crisis in September and October, an estimated 3.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) were accommodated in camps.
The floods damaged or destroyed an estimated 1.7 million homes. The remaining IDPs are sheltered in more than 240 camps and spontaneous settlements. According to Andrej Mahecic, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 128,000 IDPs are spread across 188 locations in Sindh province; 25,000 in 29 camps in Balochistan; and more than 13,000 in 16 camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Many of these people have lost homes and lack the means to rebuild them. Others are telling us they have lost livelihoods and are without sufficient cash or transport to move on,” Mr. Mahecic told reporters in Geneva, where the agency is based.
In eastern Balochistan, towns and villages that were inundated for weeks are gradually returning to normal, he said. Shops and markets have reopened and people have started rebuilding homes in villages in the worst-hit districts of Jaffarabad and Naseerabad, where thousands of mud houses were washed away. UNHCR is helping to build some 16,000 temporary shelters in the area, Mr. Mahecic said.
Over the past six months, the agency has provided emergency shelter to almost two million people as part of the joint humanitarian effort. In addition, transitional or more permanent shelters have been provided for 7,000 families.
“The work is ongoing and we remain committed to helping some 665,000 people across Pakistan with such shelters – with priority being given to the most vulnerable,” said Mr. Mahecic, adding that the agency has been providing warm winter clothes to those in need, as well as blankets and plastic sheeting to people inside and outside the camps.-UN News Service