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.
World champion boxer Amir Khan is in Pakistan where he met families made homeless by the devastating floods and took part in an Oxfam distribution of aid.
In the badly-hit region of Charsadda in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where millions of lives have been devastated by the unprecedented floods, Amir Khan met with children and families who are now forced to live in tented camps or public buildings.
Amir Khan said:
"You don't realize the reality of this disaster until you're here talking to people who have been left with nothing. It's really upsetting to see the extent of the devastation – but the people I'm meeting are extremely tough and are finding ways to survive against the odds. They need our help as they start rebuilding their lives."
At a college which is now housing hundred of families, Amir Khan discovered the importance of clean water for people who risk disease from contaminated water or unsanitary living conditions.
Amir Khan said:
"When you're living in a tent or a school, the importance of clean drinking water cannot be underestimated. Oxfam is providing people affected with clean water, which is crucial if they are to avoid disease.
"I saw myself that money is reaching people who really need it but they will need help for some time to come. I plan to dedicate my next fight to the victims of the Pakistan flood."
More than 17 million people have now been affected by the floods, more than the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Kashmir earthquake and the Haiti earthquake combined. Five million have been left homeless after their homes were washed away by the waters. And while the waters have largely receded in the north of the country, towns and villages across the south are still being threatened by fresh flooding.
This is Amir Khan's second visit to Pakistan with Oxfam – the boxer, whose family is from Pakistan, travelled there in 2006 following the South Asia earthquake.
Oxfam and partners are mounting a response across in three provinces Pakistan – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly NWFP), Sindh and Punjab. Oxfam is now reaching 480,000 people in Pakistan and has launched a rapid relief effort in districts throughout KPK, Punjab and Sindh, providing people with clean water and food, sanitation kits and hygiene supplies. We plan to scale up our response to reach 1.1 million people and will soon be starting activities to assist people recover their livelihoods.
How large is the flood-affected area? See the maps on this Blog: World Humanitarian Day: A time to help Pakistan
Pakistan floods: The situation and Oxfam's emergency response
Notes to editors
For more info, photographs or to organize an interview contact:
- Rebecca Wynn in Islamabad on + 44 (0)7769 887139
- Anna Ridout in the UK on +44 (0)7766 443506