UN's Pakistan flood appeal drying up, threatening aid and reconstruction effort: Oxfam

Islamabad, Oct 29 (ANI): Three months after unprecedented floods devastated Pakistan, cases of disease are on an increase but funds for the UN flood appeal are drying up and threatening the aid and reconstruction effort, International aid agency Oxfam has warned.

"The crisis is far from over. Parts of southern Sindh, the worst-hit area, still remain a disaster zone. When the world's attention was focused on Pakistan's flood victims there was a chance of seeing substantial aid being delivered. But as the worst of the flood waters have receded so has the promise of significant funding," said Neva Khan, Oxfam's director in Pakistan.

"The UN emergency appeal is less than 40 per cent funded. Many of the world's richest countries are failing the flood victims, who are amongst the poorest and most vulnerable in the world," she added.

According to the United Nations, 10 million people are in need of immediate food assistance. The funding shortfall is so serious that existing regular food rations to 3.5 million people could be in jeopardy, said Oxfam in a statement.

Nearly two million homes are damaged or destroyed across the country, and seven million people do not have adequate shelter, it said, adding that with winter a few weeks away, there are fears that malnutrition rates, pneumonia and other respiratory infections will sharply increase.

"There have already been 99 confirmed cases of cholera since the start of the floods and 78 cases of polio were reported this month, up 26 per cent from last year- a dramatic increase when the disease is close to eradication worldwide," the statement said.

"At the same time the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning it will have to drastically reduce surveillance staff numbers at five of its hubs in flood affected areas in November and possibly close down the operations altogether early next year unless it urgently receives extra funds," it added.

Oxfam said that other UN agencies were facing similar problems. "The World Food Program (WFP) faces a $70 million shortfall and will have to start cutting food rations from November. Funding for programs next year remains uncertain," it said.

In some flood-hit areas, Oxfam has already started early recovery work to help communities rebuild their lives and homes, the statement said.

But emergency work is still taking place in Sindh, where large areas remain underwater and families may not be able to move back home for several months. Government officials say that some of the worst-affected areas could take up to six months to dry out, t added. (ANI)

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