Officials from the United Nations cautioned on Wednesday that the water-borne illnesses and malnutrition that are ravaging large portions of Pakistan in the wake of historic monsoon floods pose a greater threat to human life than the initial flood.
According to the most recent government statistics, Pakistan has been battered by extraordinary monsoon downpours that have flooded a third of the nation, an area the size of the United Kingdom, and killed close to 1,600 people.
More than seven million people have been displaced, many living in makeshift tents without protection from mosquitoes, and often with little access to clean drinking water or washing facilities.
United Nations humanitarian coordinator Julien Harneis said Pakistan faced a cascading “second disaster” from diseases such as dengue, malaria, cholera, and diarrhea, as well as malnutrition.
“My personal concern is that mortality from the water-borne diseases, from malnutrition, will be higher than what we’ve seen so far,” he told a press conference in the capital Islamabad.
“That’s a sober but realistic understanding.
The floods have impacted over 33 million people, wrecked almost 2 million houses and businesses, washed away 7,000 kilometers (4,300 miles) of highways, and demolished 500 bridges.
Many areas of farmland, mostly in Sindh’s southern region, are still submerged. Since the beginning of the year, dengue cases there have increased to over 6,000, with half occurring in September alone. They are now surpassing the total numbers for 2021.
But since the destruction is so extensive and continuous, and because some areas are still shut off, it is still too early to get a whole picture of the disaster. According to UNICEF field operations chief Scott Whoolery, 500 children died as a direct result of the floods.”The hundreds don’t worry us. We are concerned about thousands, “Of the health catastrophe, he remarked.
They won’t be tallied, therefore we probably won’t ever know how many there are. The United Nations has already received donations exceeding its initial aim of raising $160 million for flood relief, but it now intends to double that target. The health catastrophe that is currently affecting the flood-affected areas is the top priority, according to Harneis.
Extreme weather has already wreaked havoc on Pakistan this year, with springtime heat waves scorching the nation. Both occurrences have been connected to human-caused climate change by scientists.
Less than 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to the 220 million+ strong South Asian nation. On a list of nations most susceptible to harsh weather, however, it is tenth on the list created by the NGO Germanwatch.