Pakistani Refugees Continue To Be At High Risk For Disease, U.N. Says

The 2 million Pakistani refugees forced from their homes due to a military offensive against Taliban militants in the northwestern Swat Valley continue to be at high risk for diseases “as they cope with damaged water and sewage systems in towns and villages,” according to the U.N., Bloomberg reports. “Displaced people are threatened with diarrhea, measles and respiratory infections as a result of the strain on the health service, [Eric] Laroche, [assistant director-general of the Health Action in Crises Cluster of the WHO], said. So far, the WHO’s early warning system has managed to identify and control more than 30 potential communicable disease outbreaks, he said,” Bloomberg writes (Tighe/Qayum, 7/3).

In an article that examines what the toll of the impending monsoon season might mean for the Pakistani refugees, VOA News reports a shortage in funds may limit how much the WHO can control the spread of disease. “Laroche said the WHO has only received $2 million of its $10 million appeal for essential drugs,” VOA News writes (Schlein, 7/2).

Bloomberg writes, “‘A displacement crisis the government said would last only for weeks looks set to go on for months with no relief in sight,’ Sam Zarifi, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific director, said in the statement. ‘To make matters worse, the vast majority of displaced people are living outside the registered camps where aid agencies’ are distributing aid.” Amnesty appealed for the government of Pakistan to do more to ensure aid reaches those most in need (7/3).