Pakistan flood victims - Oxfam appeal

More funds and help needed to stem hunger and disease in Pakistan

The international community urgently needs to inject more funds and effort to stem a spiralling crisis in flood-hit Pakistan, despite the huge generosity of individuals in the South West, Oxfam, which has a shop in Sidmouth, said today.

The call comes in advance of a new United Nations appeal for funds tomorrow, September 17.

By the end of August, donations to the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal in the South West had reached �5million, described as an “extraordinary” response by the DEC Chief Executive Brendan Gormley

But Oxfam South West warns of growing hunger and disease as only a fraction of the people that need help have it.

Water and sanitation, one of the most important areas for disease prevention, has received only 37 per cent of the funds it needs, while almost four million of those who need food aid have yet to receive it.

Jane Cocking, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Director, who is visiting Pakistan, said: “This is a crisis of a truly epic scale and it’s far from over yet. If the people that need help do not receive it, then disease and hunger could spiral.

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“We desperately need donors to step up to the plate and inject urgent funding. These people have lost so much, but they still could lose more. Even today, people are drinking dirty and contaminated water straight out of the Indus river. Soon we will need to help them go home and restart their lives.”

According to UN reports, over 70 percent of the affected population lack access to safe drinking water, and more than 80 percent lack access to clean, functioning toilets.

As a result, the number of reported cases of acute diarrhoea and skin diseases have more than trebled in the past three weeks, while the number of reported cases of acute respiratory infections have quadrupled.

Hunger is also a growing concern with 40 percent of families in flood-affected areas losing all their food stocks. This could cause severe problems, particularly among children. The problem looks likely to extend to next year as 80 percent of the flood-affected population are farmers.

Oxfam has called on donors who had pledged funds to turn these into actual money. Some $300m has been pledged - but pledges do not buy clean water, food or shelter.

Chris Brown, a campaigner with Oxfam South West, said: “The fantastic generosity shown by people in the South West must now be matched by the international community, which won’t have many chances to show solidarity with people caught up in Pakistan’s floods.

“The UN appeal is one of them and they must seize on it to send a clear signal that they care about the millions affected by this disaster. In turn, aid agencies, must challenge themselves, and ensure they are doing their utmost to reach all the people that need it.”