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WESTPORT, Conn. (Sept. 21, 2011) — The lives of 2 million people — over half of them children — are at severe risk from disease as devastating flooding continues in southern Pakistan, Save the Children warns.
As rains continue to fall, the humanitarian organization says children in the flooded areas of Sindh province face an increased risk of malaria, diarrhea and other waterborne diseases.
Save the Children has launched a major emergency response to get lifesaving help to children. The organization has already reached 16,200 people with vital aid supplies and is scaling up its efforts to reach 1 million people in total. Save the Children is distributing mosquito nets, soap and other hygiene items in addition to providing food, emergency healthcare and shelter items to families.
The rains in the Sindh region are the worst in the 300 years, according to local authorities. Some towns are receiving as much rain in a day as they normally do in a year. Many families still recovering from last year’s floods have again lost their homes and possessions.
Families’ homes have been swept away; they are living next main roads, which are elevated and dry. Parents are struggling to find food for their children and the materials for temporary shelters.
"This is a desperately serious situation," said David Wright, Save the Children’s Pakistan country director. "The lives of children in Sindh are at risk from both malaria and new floodwaters contaminated by the sewage from several major towns. At several camps, a hundred people are sharing a single toilet. Many children in Sindh are already weak and malnourished – malaria or waterborne diseases could kill them within days."
The peak of the malaria season in Sindh is October, but the vast expanses of standing floodwater are a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which has Save the Children concerned about high numbers of malaria cases.
In addition, a major sewage canal, known as the LBOD canal, is at risk of bursting its banks. Most of the province’s sewage flows through the canal. If it breaches its banks, tens of thousands of people will have to be evacuated.
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