The global Red Cross and Red Crescent network is quadrupling its emergency activities in Pakistan in response to the country's worst flooding in more than 80 years. As a part of this effort, the American Red Cross is providing $1 million to help Pakistani families meet their most critical needs.
The impact of the flooding is staggering, and the UN estimates that the number of people affected is now more than 15 million.
Much of the affected area in the south is still underwater. Hundreds of villages and thousands of acres of standing crops are submerged, and the waters may not recede fully for more than a year. In the northwest of the country, the waters have receded in many places and the devastation most resembles an earthquake. Bridges have collapsed and nearly 1 million houses are damaged or destroyed.
Thousands of local Pakistan Red Crescent volunteers are now distributing relief to their communities, and have reached 350,000 people since the flooding started.
There is still great need. The global Red Cross and Red Crescent network is working with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society to reach more than 900,000 people. This assistance includes emergency relief, tents and shelter kits, medical care, clean water and improved sanitation, as well as help to restore livelihoods in the coming months.
Meanwhile, medical teams have treated 44,000 people since the flooding first began. Waterborne diseases still pose a risk to millions of people, especially children, living in the flood-affected areas, and contaminated water and the lack of medication are causing some of the main flood-related illnesses, such as respiratory tract infections and diarrhea, to be potentially deadly.
Comparisons between Pakistan's current flooding and previous major natural disasters make it clear that this is a catastrophe of unparalleled magnitude, and the floods are not yet likely to have reached their destructive peak. More rain is expected by the end of the week.