Hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan have been left with nowhere to live after their homes were destroyed in the extreme monsoon floods. Save the Children is providing emergency aid and psychosocial support to Afghan families like Mirwais* who have lost everything.
“I Don’t Have a Life Anymore”: Misery and Loss for Afghans in Pakistan as 800,000 Refugees Hit by Floods
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (September 29, 2022) – Hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan have been left homeless once again after Pakistan’s devastating floods decimated their refugee camps, says Save the Children. Some 800,000 refugees, including Afghans, have been affected by the floods, which have killed almost 1,600 people across Pakistan and left millions of others homeless.
The provinces that have seen the worst flooding – Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – are home to 80% of Pakistan’s 1.3 million Afghan refugees, almost half of whom are children. Many fled Afghanistan when the Taliban re-took control in August last year.
In Balochistan, where more than 310,000 Afghan refugees live, an estimated 65,000 homes have been completely destroyed and many more damaged.
Mirwais*, 45, fled his home in Afghanistan to a refugee camp in Balochistan with his wife and two young sons 11 months ago, soon after the Taliban re-took control of Afghanistan. With nowhere to live and no income, Mirwais borrowed money to build a few small rooms for his family to live in. But less than a year after the family arrived, their home has been completely destroyed, and they’ve lost everything. Mirwais said:
“The conditions were really bad in Afghanistan. We were suffering because of the war. We came here … and as soon as we came here, the floods happened. So now we are in the same misery as we were in Afghanistan.
“When we came here … we had to take out loans to build a few rooms. And now, all the effort we’ve made in the last 11 months has been washed away by the floods. I am sitting here at a loss, very depressed, thinking of what my future will be like. How will I rebuild my house? How will I start my normal life again?”
More than two million homes have been destroyed since the floods in Pakistan in June, and 7.6 million people have been left homeless. Hunger and disease are rife, and the country is now facing a major public health emergency.
A new survey by Save the Children found that more than half of flood-hit families are sleeping outside in tents or makeshift shelters – often no more than flimsy plastic sheets – while around one in six have no shelter at all.
Children sleeping outside without shelter or clean drinking water are at serious risk of life-threatening diseases like malaria, dysentery, and diarrhea, as well as insect and snake bites, Save the Children warned.
Save the Children’s Country Director in Pakistan, Khuram Gondal, said:
“Disasters like this become even more deadly when they hit the poorest and most vulnerable, such as refugees. Many refugees were living in small houses made from mud, which didn’t stand a chance against these powerful floods. Imagine having to flee your home with young children to escape war, only to see what little you had left washed away by floods just a few months later. The misery is never-ending.
“No child should have to sleep outside in the rain without clean water or food. Organizations like ours are doing everything we can to keep them safe, but the country desperately needs more funds if we’re going to meet the enormous level of need.
“It’s been over a month since the Pakistan government called for assistance from the international community. Yet, only 37 percent of the already inadequate target set by the UN for the flood response has been met. It’s a complete moral failure.”
Save the Children is providing emergency relief to families like Mirwais’ that have lost everything, including food, emergency shelter, and medical assistance. Since last year, it has been providing emergency relief for Afghan refugees in Pakistan who fled Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover, delivering life-saving services like healthcare, clean water, and education. It also runs education and training programs for Afghan refugees living in Pakistan’s Balochistan and Chaman districts.
*Names changed to protect identities.
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