George Laryea-Adjei, regional director of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for South Asia, stated that climate catastrophe in Pakistan was a foreshadowing of future disasters.
“As the horrific climate calamity continues to devastate the lives of millions of children in Pakistan, the most vulnerable boys and girls are paying the highest price,” he said in a statement after touring flood-affected regions across the nation.
UNICEF official: “The children I’ve met here have lost everything: loved ones, prized schoolbooks, the only houses they’ve ever known, their schools, and their sense of security.”
Adjei remarked that when the flood waters recede and media attention wanes, the problem in Pakistan has evolved into a severe threat to the lives of children.
Children with severe acute malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria, dengue fever, typhoid, acute respiratory infections, and painful skin problems are waging a losing struggle. The longer the crisis continues, the higher the risk to children’s emotional health, in addition to their physical health.
“Nearly 10 million youngsters require lifesaving assistance immediately. Hundreds of people have already perished. Over one in nine children here suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a disease that can be fatal. Parents in a state of panic are seeking for food to feed their children even a modest supper.”
“I met Farida in a camp in Sohbatpur, Balochistan. She and her five children had evacuated their beloved house due to the floods. Rasheeda, her one-year-old daughter, was clearly underweight and affected by acute malnutrition, causing her mother extreme anxiety.
“Their tale is only one of millions. As winter approaches, children living in flimsy tents, if they are fortunate enough to have one, will continue to succumb to diseases that are normally preventable and treatable.”
Despite the fact that the international appeal for the country is critically underfunded, he stated that the boys and girls of Pakistan require “our support to survive.”
Hundreds of more children may perish in the next weeks if international funding to scale up interventions is not forthcoming, he said, adding, “However, this story of climate destruction is not unique to Pakistan.”
“In 2022 alone, floods caused by climate change have devastated Pakistan, Bangladesh, northern India, and Afghanistan, leaving over 15 million boys and girls in need of assistance. Extreme heatwaves have ravaged the region’s densely populated cities with temperatures reaching 48 degrees.”
He added that glaciers in Pakistan and Bhutan have continued to melt, landslides in Nepal have destroyed children’s homes, and rising sea levels continue to endanger the very existence of Maldives.
The UNICEF representative stated that children have no role in causing the climate disaster in South Asia, yet they are the ones paying the highest price.
He stated that this climatic calamity threatens the health, well-being, and very existence of over 616 million boys and girls who call this region home.
He stated that governments must maintain the vital water, sanitation and hygiene, health, and education services on which boys and girls depend so desperately.
They must also ensure that every boy and girl has the skills and information necessary to live and prosper in a world affected by climate change.
“First and foremost, though, world leaders must urgently reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” This is the only method to save the lives of children.
“Without immediate global action, I fear that the climate devastation we have witnessed in Pakistan may merely be a prologue to many such child survival catastrophes in the future.”