The Red Cross is seeking to extend its distribution of relief aid to help millions of people living in dire conditions in Pakistan, which has been hit by the worst floods in its history.
Contributions already made to the Red Cross by donors have helped immensely in the initial response phase following the floods, said Alex Mahoney, the American Red Cross manager of disaster programs for Asia.
More than 20 million people have been affected by the recent floods in Pakistan. The American Red Cross is among 37 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies working to support the Pakistan Red Crescent in the provision of food and non-food relief items to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. There are 150,000 families currently benefiting from Red Cross and Red Crescent relief aid.
The American Red Cross has provided $5 million to the international relief effort for Pakistan.
Mahoney said that donations to the American Red Cross have helped the people of Pakistan in several ways, including supporting the provision of urgently needed food, essential items such as tarpaulins, water purification tablets, and blankets, as well as distribution of shelter materials to protect people left homeless by the floods.
Nearly 1 million men, women and children are also receiving emergency and/or transitional shelter in time for the oncoming winter. The response by the Red Cross network has been scaled up significantly to support hundreds of thousands of people with emergency relief, shelter, medical care and improved access to clean water and sanitation.
But the remaining needs from the widespread devastation are more than the available relief supplied, and additional funding is needed to meet the future needs of those affected.
“We have tapped our reserves, emptied our relief supplies from two regional warehouses and deployed disaster experts in support of this enormous relief operation,” Mahoney said. A few facts highlight the scope of the disaster:
- More than 1.9 million homes have been badly damaged.
- More than 5 million acres of crops were lost during the floods.
- Child malnutrition is a growing concern, with the UN reporting that 30% to 50% of children arriving at health facilities show symptoms of acute malnutrition.
- Respiratory infections are on the rise, and health teams have treated more than 20,000 people for respiratory infections since the flooding began.
The situation on the ground requires a massive response from both local and international organizations. So far, 20 percent of the affected population has returned home, and the complexity of needs requires a well-coordinated and multi-faceted humanitarian response.
“This recovery effort is going to take a lot longer than we had originally anticipated, and the American Red Cross will continue to rely on generous financial donations to assist those who are most vulnerable,” Mahoney added.