The enormity of Pakistan's plight

By Pascale Palmer
August 13, 2010

Right now, as you read this, the Disasters and Emergencies Committee (DEC) estimates that six million children are at risk of fatal disease and malnutrition in Pakistan

As an area of land larger than the UK is swamped by unprecedented floods (, the disaster creep from illness and transport network loss is raising its ugly head.

CAFOD and its partners working on the ground in Pakistan have reached 6,300 people so far and our supporters have pledged £250,000 in emergency funds.

The scale of the destruction is still unknown but with 14m people affected, this is already at catastrophic levels, with worse waiting in the wings. As polluted water hits the most densely populated areas people will be left with little choice but to drink, clean themselves and their belongings in contaminated water. And on the plains of southern Pakistan, standing water will soon be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and malaria.

In the last two days CAFOD partner CRS has distributed plastic sheeting, water purification tablets and other relief items to people in the Swat Valley. The destruction of key roads and bridges has made reaching remote villages nearly impossible but we're now making headway into those areas too. In one area of Shangla district in northern Pakistan almost all the existing paths and water systems were washed away, but CRS engineers are now on the case, getting the water conduits repaired and working.

To give us all a sense of the scale of the destruction in Pakistan, the UN is appealing for £290m to fund its efforts alongside the Pakistan government. As I write this, the DEC, of which CAFOD is a member, has raised £9.5m to help those affected by the floods. Let's give some more:

(c) Pascale Palmer is CAFOD's Advocacy Media Officer.

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