by Brian McAfee
Dec. 18, 2010
Reports indicate that the hardships from Pakistan’s earlier monsoon floods have been exacerbated by the onslaught of winter. The floods impacted 20 million of Pakistan’s population of just over 180 million people. As the temperature dips, hundreds of thousands of displaced children and adults are susceptible to pneumonia and other cold related diseases. According to Director of the National Institute of Child Health (Pakistan), Professor Jamal Raza states that the flood victims becoming ill from cold related causes, particularly children, could almost double from the current number.
Many are living in non-winterized tents, and there are shortages of dry firewood and other materials, such as adequate clothing, needed to create warmth. Further, many of the flood ravaged areas from this year’s monsoon remain covered in water and millions are still displaced. Concurrently, many being farmers whose fields are still flooded have no source of livelihood, and food distribution is difficult to carry out under the circumstances.
Concerning the children, Professor Raza states that it will be an uphill battle to save many of the them as they are malnourished, and have experienced a great deal of weight loss due to poor diet. Moreover, their capability for immunity is very low and, accordingly, they are susceptible to a wide range of respiratory diseases. Consequently, there is an urgent need for blankets, quilts and better shelter to fight the cold, as well as provisions for the obvious nutritional and medical needs.
Reports out of Pakistan indicate a further danger caused by the floods, the release of stored toxic chemicals into the flood waters. An article in www.newscientist.com reports that the floods released an estimated 3,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals into the environment. The chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) include several insect repellents, such as DDT. At the same time, many of them do not biodegrade in nature, and are purportedly linked to hormonal, developmental and reproductive disorders. Pakistan’s floods have awakened some nations and scientists to this ongoing threat as changes in weather patterns become more evident.
Reputable organizations currently active in the relief effort in Pakistan include OXFAM www.oxfamamerica.org, AmeriCares www.americares.org, Save the Children www.savethechildren.org and www.unrefugees.org. Please consider helping the people of Pakistan through any one of them and be sure to specify that the donation is for Pakistan flood relief if you do make a contribution.
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