Double Catastrophe for People in Pakistan Swat Valley

08/03/2010 10:54 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

People in the Swat Valley in Northern Pakistan hit by the catastrophic floods were only just recovering from the conflict that forced them from their homes last year.

My colleague Neva Khan, Oxfam's Country Director in Pakistan is now coordinating the aid effort for Oxfam. We have been working in Pakistan since 1973.

Here is what she's witnessing at the moment (August 3rd):

"We are now in a race against time to avert a public health disaster. The countryside is drowning in an ocean of contaminated water. The very young are at risk of going down with severe diarrhea. Given the lack of food, the displacement and their vulnerability, a bout of diarrhea could be a death sentence.

"Oxfam is particularly worried about families in the Swat Valley because people were only just recovering from the crisis last year. People were forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and had just started to return home and rebuild some sense of normalcy -- and then this happened. The floods are catastrophic.

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"Those affected were already vulnerable and mostly poor and now they've been made homeless and in need of help once again. People desperately need clean water, food, shelter and healthcare.

"We had contingency supplies in country so were able to respond very quickly but lack of electricity is causing us real problems. We're not able to pump water off the mains so have supplied generators and are doing quick fix repairs to water systems that have been destroyed."

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"The rains are very heavy indeed. Whenever it rains the levels rise so fast.

"There are queues and queues of people waiting for clean drinking water. Oxfam is trucking water in mobile water tanks to reach people who have been living in contaminated sludge for days."

Oxfam is appealing for $US6 million to reach 400,000 people with clean water, sanitation kits and hygiene supplies. The agency is responding now and will also help boost recovery over the long-term.

To DONATE to Oxfam, please go HERE