More than four months after the floods, more than 10 million are still receiving daily emergency assistance and nearly 7 million remain without adequate shelter.
The aid agency Save the Children has warned that freezing winter conditions in flood-affected areas pose a fresh risk to flood victims, especially children. ”This must not become a forgotten emergency, especially now as children could die due to cold-related illnesses like pneumonia,” said Mike Penrose, Save the Children’s director of emergency response.
”More children will die in the flood areas if they don’t get the appropriate treatment in time. We are already seeing an increasing number of chest infection cases. The immediate need is to ensure people can keep warm and have proper shelter.”
Even before the floods hit, about 85,000 children died from pneumonia each year in Pakistan. This winter millions of children will be forced to live in the open, or in tents, with little or no access to healthcare, and this could fuel the spread of pneumonia respiratory disease. In mountainous parts of northern Pakistan, hard hit by flooding, temperatures are already falling below freezing.
Aid workers are mystified by the scanty public response to the floods and warn that a lack of resources is hampering relief and rehabilitation work.
”People seem more interested in cricket scandals, terrorism and WikiLeaks, so I fear it’s going to take something catastrophic [to gain world attention],” Khurram Masood, from Save the Children in Pakistan, told the Herald.
Fahmida Ghancha, mother of six, is one of the tens of thousands of Pakistani flood victims who will spend winter in makeshift tents.
She says she can’t go home because there is still five feet of water in her village. Ghancha lives in Mehar, Dadu district in the southern Sindh province. Her home for now is the Shabaz relief camp at Hyderabad. She says she and her family were pressured to leave their shelter in a school so that classes could open.
“We have no blankets. We are dying of cold. We have no house, only these coverlets on which my children sleep,” said Ghancha.