War in Pakistan Exposes 2 Million Refugees to Contaminated Water, Disease Risk

pakistan refugees water photo

Photo via the Takeaway

As fighting between the Taliban and the Pakistani military escalated in South Waziristan, millions of people were forced to flee their homes—it was Pakistan's biggest exodus since the country's founding in 1947. The two million refugees now face a slew of severe health risks—among them, a contaminated, damaged water supply and insufficient access to health care.
We've been discussing the water crisis recently here at TreeHugger, and this tragic event highlights the importance of a sound water supply—especially in volatile regions of the world. Without access to safe water and no choice but to live in proximity to a damaged sewage system the refugees have been coming down with diarrhea, measles and respiratory infections, according to Bloomberg.

With the influx of so many people, the host communities which have taken in the refugees have seen "enormous strain" put on their health care systems. Subsequently, care has been unavailable for a great number of the refugees.

It's been discussed how water is already causing violent conflict in certain regions, and how an insufficient supply of water could lead to larger scale violence and even wars. But here we have a clear portrait of the consequences of a large group of people living with inadequate, unclean water and poor sewage infrastructure: and it's lead to the additional suffering of millions.

The UN reports that only a quarter of the requested funds have been received, and without further aid, the situation is apt to worsen. From Bloomberg's Report:

The new offensives will worsen the refugee crisis, Amnesty International said in an e-mailed statement today. "A displacement crisis the government said would last only for weeks looks set to go on for months with no relief in sight," Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific director, said in the statement. "To make matters worse, the vast majority of displaced people are living outside the registered camps where aid agencies" are distributing aid.

It's an often-overlooked part of the story—we see headlines about how many people were killed in a suicide bombing or about a skirmish in the war with alarming frequency. But it's far rarer we hear about the displaced people who suffer and perish in refugee camps due to environmental factors.

More on War and Water:
Water Wars in Wild West Over Rainwater Catchment
Water Wars or Something Better: Can Water Bring Peace? : TreeHugger

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