ISLAMABAD — (AP) — About 5.7 million Pakistani flood survivors will face a severe food crisis over the next three months as the death toll from Monday’s floods rises, the United Nations humanitarian agency warned.
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Agency reported that floods triggered by unusually heavy rains have killed 1,695 people, affected 33 million, damaged more than 2 million homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of people currently living in tents or makeshift housing.
The current floods are expected to exacerbate food insecurity in Pakistan, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Saturday in its latest report, adding that 5.7 million people in flood-affected areas will face a food crisis between September and November.
According to the World Health Organization, even before the floods, 16 percent of the population was living with moderate or severe food insecurity.
However, the Pakistani government has insisted that there is no immediate concern about food supplies because wheat stocks are sufficient for the next harvest and the government is importing more wheat.
The United Nations agency said in a tweet on Monday that it and other partners had scaled up its response to the flooding and provided assistance to the 1.6 million people directly affected by the flooding.
Outbreaks of water-borne and other diseases are rising in Sindh and southwestern Balochistan, where flooding caused the heaviest damage since mid-June, the OCHA said.
Some countries and UN agencies have sent more than 131 flights to deliver aid to survivors, but many complain they are either getting too little help or are still waiting.
The U.N. humanitarian agency also said in its report on Saturday that rainfall in Balochistan and Sindh provinces fell sharply over the past week as temperatures began to drop ahead of winter.
“The situation is normal in most parts of Balochistan, while in Sindh the Indus flow is normal,” OCHA said. Overall, it added that in 18 of Sindh’s 22 districts, flood levels have dropped by at least 34 percent and in some areas by 78 percent.
The OCHA report also highlighted the plight of flood survivors, saying many continue to live in “unsanitary conditions in temporary shelters, often with limited access to essential services, exacerbating the risk of a major public health crisis”.
It said pregnant women would be treated in makeshift camps as much as possible, with nearly 130,000 pregnant women requiring emergency medical services.
“Prior to the floods, Pakistan had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Asia and the situation is likely to worsen,” it said.
The United Nations is to issue a revised appeal seeking an additional $800 million from the international community to meet the soaring lifesaving needs of flood survivors in Pakistan. The United Nations said last week that “food is being provided to vulnerable families; however, it is still insufficient to meet people’s nutritional needs.”
Pakistan said the floods cost its economy about $30 billion.
Floods washed away thousands of kilometers of roads, destroyed 440 bridges and disrupted rail traffic.
Pakistan Railways said it has started to resume train services from Sindh to other cities after repairing some flood-damaged tracks.
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