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.
Mobile water tanks, first aid, boats and local volunteers have been put on high alert by Oxfam as the worst floods in living memory surge south.
Local organizations supported by Oxfam in Sindh are mobilized and on stand by in response to reports of rivers in the province bursting their banks.
In Jamshoro west of Hyderabad, on the bank of Indus River and the gateway to the Indus Valley, a group of 60 fishermen are prepared with 120 boats, trained in first aid and rescue with an established early warning system, ready to evacuate people from four districts.
Oxfam has bladder tanks ready in threatened areas so families have access to clean drinking water without delay.
Close to 1,600 people are reported to have been killed in the disaster and 4 million affected. Local authorities estimate that an additional 700,000 could be affected by the looming floods in Sindh.
Oxfam's Country Director Neva Khan said:
"People are incredibly scared and fearful for their homes, fields, animals and their lives. But despite the imminent threat, local people are coming together and preparing as much as they possibly can for the devastation that is coming their way.
"Oxfam is supporting local groups to gear up and get ready with first aid, clean water, and evacuation teams."
There are already around 1,000 people who have left their homes and are sheltering in camps in Dadu, north of Karachi. Oxfam will distribute hygiene kits – made up of buckets, water purification tablets and soap – to more than 1,000 people tomorrow.
In the areas already badly affected in Khyber Paktankhwa (formerly NWFP) and Punjab Province, Oxfam is today providing 4,200 people with hygiene kits and kitchen sets, as well as continuing to truck clean drinking water to 39,200 people per day.
So far the agency has reached more than 100,000 people with clean water and helped local groups evacuate 80,000 stranded people.
Notes to editors
- The public can donate at http://www.oxfam.org/pakistanfloods
- Photos from Pakistan are available on request.
- Oxfam staff are available for interview on the ground in the affected area.
- 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ian Bray, Senior Press Officer, Oxfam GB, +44 (0)1865 472289 or +44 (0)7721 461339
- Rebecca Wynn, Oxfam GB Media Officer in Pakistan, +92 308 555 9694 or +44 7769 887139, email@example.com