A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
People in the Swat Valley in Northern Pakistan hit by the catastrophic floods were only just recovering from the conflict that forced them from their homes last year, said Neva Khan, Oxfam's Country Director in Pakistan.
Neva Khan said:
"We are now in a race against time to avert a public health disaster. The countryside is drowning in an ocean of contaminated water. The very young are at risk of going down with severe diarrhea. Given the lack of food, the displacement and their vulnerability, a bout of diarrhea could be a death sentence.
"Oxfam is particularly worried about families in the Swat Valley because people were only just recovering from the crisis last year. People were forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and had just started to return home and rebuild some sense of normalcy – and then this happened. The floods are catastrophic.
"Those affected were already vulnerable and mostly poor and now they've been made homeless and in need of help once again.
"People desperately need clean water, food, shelter and healthcare.
"We had contingency supplies in country so we were able to respond very quickly but lack of electricity is causing us real problems. We're not able to pump water off the mains so we have supplied generators and are doing quick fix repairs to water systems that have been destroyed.
"The rains are very heavy indeed. Whenever it rains the levels rise so fast.
"There are queues and queues of people waiting for clean drinking water. Oxfam is trucking water in mobile water tanks to reach people who have been living in contaminated sludge for days."
Oxfam is appealing for $US6 million to reach 400,000 people with clean water, sanitation kits and hygiene supplies. The agency is responding now and will also help boost recovery over the long-term.
Notes to editors
Photos from Pakistan are available on request.
Oxfam staff are available for interview on the ground in the affected area.
- £12 ($20) will buy one family hygiene kit (soap, washing powder, sanitary cloths, towels, oral rehydration salts, nail cutter/com
- £14 ($23) will buy one family household kit (plastic bucket, water cooler, floor mats, waste bin, shawls, water purification)
- £46 ($75) will buy tools for clearing up (shovel, pick axe, bucket, broom, wheel barrow)
Oxfam has been working in Pakistan since 1973. We support local partners and work with government authorities to improve the livelihoods of those living in poverty, and provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by disasters and conflict.
- Louis Belanger, Oxfam International Media Officer, + 1 917 224 0834
- Ian Bray, Senior Press Officer, Oxfam GB, +44 (0)1865 472289 or +44 (0)7721 461339