Unicef seeks $135.6m to address Pakistan’s humanitarian crisis

Published December 31, 2023
Dera Allah Yar: Flood-affected children attend a class at a mobile school set up in a camp housing flood-hit people. —AFP/File
Dera Allah Yar: Flood-affected children attend a class at a mobile school set up in a camp housing flood-hit people. —AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Unicef is seeking $135.6 million from the donor community for 2024 to meet the critical humanitarian needs of more than 5.5m people in Pakistan, including 3.4m children.

The 2024 funding requirement takes into account the protracted and ongoing nutrition emergency following the 2022 floods, as well as the ongoing response to support Afghan populations in Pakistan, reveals a new Unicef report.

The funding will help 1.3m people gain access to safe water and sanitation, provide essential health and nutrition services for 5m people and enable 18,000 children to access formal or non-formal education.

The report says with full funding, Unicef will be able to reach 15 per cent of children in critical need of life-saving, humanitarian support in Pakistan. The funding supports interventions for health, nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene, social and behaviour change, access to education and protection, as well as preparedness. This includes contingency supplies for disasters and to respond to potential regional crises and population movement.

Funding will address climate impacts, floods, malnutrition and limited access to education

Of the total funding request, $35 million will support the Afghan refugee response, including the provision of essential health and nutrition services, access to education and protection for children, it says.

Unicef seeks multi-year and flexible funding, in alignment with Grand Bargain commitments, for the multifaceted humanitarian needs faced by children and families in Pakistan. The ‘Grand Bargain’ is a unique agreement between some of the largest donors and humanitarian organisations to get more means into the hands of people in need and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian action. Without adequate and timely funding, Unicef and its partners will not be able to address children’s needs for health services, nutrition support, prevention of school drop-out and protection from violence, exploitation and abuse.

Risk of disaster

Unicef says Pakistan is highly susceptible to climate change, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, and the impacts of climate change are intensifying, leading to frequent floods and extreme weather events that are converging with other challenges to create a difficult humanitarian situation, especially for the most vulnerable people.

In 2022, catastrophic floods swept through the country, affecting 33m people, half of whom were children. There were more than 1,100 fatalities. A year later, many of the hardest-hit districts still have limited access to essential services.

The loss of infrastructure to the floods has aggravated pre-existing inequities, placing the most vulnerable children at an even greater risk of hunger and disease outbreaks. Despite extensive humanitarian response efforts to address the impacts of the flooding, ongoing support remains crucial in the most vulnerable flood-affected districts.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2023

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