UNICEF has regretted that its funding appeal for over three million children in Pakistan's flood-affected areas was still less than a third of the USD 39 million it sought, according to a senior official.
"The rains and floods have already claimed the lives of more than 550 children. Without a significant surge in support, we fear many more children will lose their lives," Unicef Pakistan chief field officer in Balochistan, Gerida Birukila, said.
"The world needs to come together and help the children in Pakistan. Together we can save lives by delivering life-saving health, nutrition and education services to every child in Pakistan who needs it the most," Dawn newspaper quoted the representative of the United Nations Children's Fund as saying in Geneva on Tuesday.
She said that next week marked a month since catastrophic floods uprooted more than 3.4 million children from their homes in Pakistan.
The devastating floods since June 14 have left more than 1,545 persons dead and thousands more injured.
The floods have affected 33 million people in Pakistan, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Swelling waters have swept away villages, roads and bridges, and at one point inundated a third of Pakistan's territory.
"Even after three weeks, large parts of flood-affected areas are still submerged under water. Many of the roads and bridges have either been washed away or damaged. Thousands of families in 81 calamity-hit districts are still cut-off and desperately need support. Families have no food, clean water or medicines.
"Lack of food means a lot of the mothers are now anaemic and malnourished and have very low-weight babies," she said.
"Unicef has been on the ground since day one supporting the government's flood response. Immediately following the floods, we dispatched USD 1 million in prepositioned supplies, with an additional USD 3 million of supplies delivered and being dispatched to the worst affected districts. We have set up 71 mobile health camps, and have set up temporary learning centres to help children cope with trauma," Birukila added.
Stagnant floodwaters spread over hundreds of kilometres have led to the outbreak of diseases, as hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the catastrophic floods were living in the open on roadsides.
Birukila, describing the situation as "utterly heartbreaking", said many families had no alternative but to drink the disease-ridden water. "Everywhere we go, we see desperation and despair growing." The children were surrounded by pools of stagnant water poisoned with fertilisers and faeces and swarming with diseases and viruses, sometimes metres away from where they sleep, she said.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who also oversees the national flood response centre, told a press conference in Islamabad that a "disease outbreak" was already there in the flooded areas and "we fear it may get out of control".An intense and long monsoon dumped around three times as much rain in the country than on average, causing an estimated loss of USD 30 billion.