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Flood Victims in Pakistan in Need of Emergency Shelter

  • Lisa Schlein

Fresh rains lashed flood-hit Pakistan Sunday, hampering aid efforts and deepening a crisis for the 15 million people affected by the country's worst flooding in decades.

The International Organization for Migration says there is a desperate need for emergency shelter and other relief items in the north and center of Pakistan as floods continue to spread. The IOM says more shelter will be needed as the floods continue to move from north to south, displacing growing numbers of people downstream in Punjab and Sindh provinces.

Pakistani officials estimate about 250,000 homes in the northwestern part of the country have been destroyed or severely damaged by the floods. This, they say, has left at least one-and-one-half million people homeless.

To date, the government's National Disaster Management Authority reports more than 50,000 tents have been distributed to affected families.

The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration is coordinating the distribution of emergency shelter by the government and humanitarian aid agencies.

Brian Kelly, who heads IOM's emergency response unit in Islamabad, says too many people still have no protective cover from the ongoing torrential rains.

"The movement of people has been significant," Kelly said. "Just for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, there are at least 310 different locations where people have moved to schools, mosques, government buildings, army barracks, stadiums and, what we would call, collective centers. There are also about five very informal camps and well over 100 spontaneous settlements, primarily located on the roadside, because the road is higher than the surrounding farmland area."

Kelly says many people are along the road. He says they have no assistance and are completely exposed to the stifling heat and rain.

He says aid agencies on the ground have distributed all of their existing stock. He says the floods have damaged many of the tents and other shelter material in local warehouses.

Kelly says aid agencies are hampered by lack of supplies and accessibility to certain areas, but are doing their best to fill the needs of the displaced flood victims.

"Overall, the strategy is looking at shelter kits," Kelly said. "That is plastic tarpaulins, as well as some rope and other materials, to help people in the extremely overcrowded collective centers, living in the schools, the government buildings and also providing non-food items to them."

Kelly says it is particularly critical to get tents to the people living in spontaneous settlements along the roadside. He is appealing to the international community to send tents that meet international standards as quickly as possible.

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