“The floods have contaminated drinking water, which is spawning deadly water-borne diseases”
UNICEF warns millions of
children caught in climate-induced disasters are at risk of starvation,
disease, exploitation, and death.
A UNICEF analysis
released Tuesday finds 27.7 million children in 27 countries have been affected
by flooding so far this year. Among them, Chad, the Gambia, and northeast
Bangladesh have recorded the worst floods in a generation. The agency reports
Pakistan’s record-breaking floods have killed nearly 1,700 people, 615 of them
communication and advocacy director, Paloma Escudero, says she saw for herself
the enormity of the disaster during a visit to Pakistan last week. She says the
needs are vast, adding 10 million girls and boys need immediate lifesaving
“The floods have
contaminated drinking water, which is spawning deadly water-borne diseases such
as acute watery diarrhea, which compounds already acute malnutrition,”
Escudero said. “Estimates suggest close to 1.6 million children in flood
areas could be suffering from severe acute malnutrition.”
She notes stagnant water
is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, increasing the risk of malaria and
dengue. She warns many vulnerable children and young people will die in the
days and weeks to come without urgent action.
Escudero spoke on a video
link from Sharm el-Sheikh, site of COP27, the climate change conference. She
says scientists have found the recent floods in Pakistan have been made worse
by climate change. While children are the least responsible for creating this
problem, she says they are suffering the most.
“In Africa, just like in
Pakistan, children are paying the price for a climate disaster not of their
making. From the extreme drought and risk of famine in Somalia to the erratic
rains across the Sahel, UNICEF is being challenged to respond at an
unprecedented scale to emergencies that have all the markings of
climate-induced disasters,” Escudero said.
UNICEF reports children
account for almost half of the more than 20 million people facing famine in
drought-stricken Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.
Nearly 40 youth climate
activists from around the world are in Sharm el-Sheikh. They are working with
UNICEF to sensitize delegates to the severe impact of the climate crisis on the
world’s poorest, most vulnerable children.
Escudero notes it is not
up to young people to keep raising the alarm. What is needed, she says, is for
people with power to start acting.