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Children, women prone to diseases in stagnant flood water

The losses will slash the country’s GDP growth to around 3 percent from the estimated target of 5 percent set out in the budget when it had narrowly escaped defaulting on its debt in a balance of payment crisis.

Pakistan was already reeling from economic blows when the floods hit, with its foreign reserves falling as low as one month’s worth of imports and its current account deficit widening.

The economy has yet to show any positive response to Islamabad resuming an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme delayed since early this year. The Pakistani rupee has been tumbling and inflation has topped 27 percent.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has reported 1,508 flood-related deaths so far, including 536 children and 308 women.

‘BEYOND BLEAK’

Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are in dire need of food, shelter, clean drinking water, toilets and medicines. Many have been sleeping in the open by the side of elevated highways.

“I have been in flood-affected areas for the past two days. The situation for families is beyond bleak, and the stories I heard paint a desperate picture,” said Abdullah Fadil, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Pakistan, in a statement.

“All of us on the ground see malnourished children battling diarrhoea and malaria, dengue fever, and many with painful skin conditions.”

Many of the mothers are themselves anaemic and malnourished, unable to breastfeed exhausted or ill underweight babies, he said. Millions of families have little more than rags to protect themselves from the scorching sun as temperatures in some areas exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104°F), Fadil said.

The UNHCR said an estimated 16 million children have been affected, and at least 3.4 million girls and boys remain in need of immediate lifesaving support.

The torrential monsoon, which submerged huge swathes of Pakistan, was a once-in-a-century event likely made more intense by climate change, scientists said on Thursday.

The country received 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or some 190 percent more than the 30-year average through July and August, a monsoon spell that started early and stretched beyond the usual timeline. Rainfall in the southern province of Sindh shot up to 466 percent of the average.

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