January 14, 2013 — UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow is in Lebanon to meet refugees from the conflict in Syria, as the needs and numbers of those fleeing continue to rise. She is blogging from the field, and you can follow her posts at http://unicef.tumblr.com/. She will also be participating in a Twitter chat tomorrow. During her visit, Ms. Farrow will travel to two locations close to the Syrian border, and will speak with both refugees and host families. In addition, she will visit UNICEF-supported child-friendly spaces, where children who have witnessed the horrors of the conflict receive psychosocial support and counseling.
At a press conference this morning, Mark Bowden, a UN humanitarian coordinator, said that famine conditions now exist in the Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of Somalia. He warned: “If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks… Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine-affected areas.”
Pakistan’s deadly floods have now affected over six million people, according to the latest estimates from the Provincial Authorities of Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), and Punjab, in cooperation with the United Nations. “Things will probably get worse, before they start getting better,” said Martin Mogwanja, Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan. “We are working at full speed to respond to the most urgent needs of the affected populations.”
Dr. Muhammad Rafiq is Officer in Charge of the UNICEF Provincial Office in Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa, Pakistan. He send this report from the field.
The recent floods in Pakistan have been the worst I have ever seen in my 53 years. When I was young we heard from our elders that there were great floods in 1929, but we currently think that these are twice as bad. Nobody has any memory of a worse disaster.
For children this was truly terrifying. They were grabbed out of their beds by parents in the middle of the night and had to run to safe ground as water poured into their houses. The only warning they had was from local Mosques telling them to leave. They ran without their shoes and without their belongings.
With the death toll rising, outbreaks of waterborne disease are a serious threat. UNICEF and its partners have set up 9 medical camps in Swat and are providing medicines, water treatment tablets and jerry cans. The agency is also supporting local authorities in their efforts to provide clean drinking water.
To support UNICEF’s disaster relief efforts for the children of Pakistan, please donate online at www.unicefusa.org/pakistan – and share this information with your networks.