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Red Cross Ramps Up Humanitarian Operation in Pakistan


As floodwaters spread to southern Pakistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Pakistan Red Crescent say they are ramping up efforts to get aid those in need. Describing the disaster a catastrophe of unparalleled magnitude, the agency also warned rain forecasts indicate the floods are not yet likely to have reached their destructive peak.

The United Nations estimates the floods are affecting 20 million people. The floodwaters are receding in the north and moving to the south where tens of thousands of people are reportedly fleeing from a threatened flood surge.

The ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent have provided more than 150,000 people with one-month food rations and 100,000 with other items, said Red Cross spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas. But she added this joint relief effort is not keeping pace with the rising number of people needing help, forcing the agencies to expand their humanitarian operations.

"We are roughly active since the very beginning of this catastrophe in an area situated West of the Indus River. And, we are also delivering some assistance in parts of Sindh and Punjab areas east of the Indus. We are also continuing to carry out humanitarian activities for civilians who have been affected by fighting in the northwest of the country. In particular, food distributions are continuing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for people displaced."

Krimitsas said other major ICRC concerns are healthcare and waterborne and other diseases.

"We have basic healthcare units together with the Pakistan Red Crescent, eight of them and two mobile health units have provided already more than 40,000 consultations on the ground since the flooding commenced. Our support to selected district hospitals, diarrhea treatment units continue and, of course, remains vital. Airlifts of emergency aid to Peshawar are still underway from Nairobi from Jordan."

The ICRC said six people have been seriously injured by mines and unexploded ordnance that have been moved by floodwaters. The agency is distributing leaflets to warn weapon-contaminated communities of the risks posed by mines and other explosive devices moving in floodwaters.

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