ISLAMABAD — The UN children’s agency said on Thursday that some 2 million children in areas of Pakistan devastated by this summer’s floods are still out of school.
The flooding, which began in mid-June, damaged or destroyed nearly 27,000 school buildings, UNICEF said, adding that it was likely to be weeks or even months before the floodwaters subsided completely. In some places, only the roofs of school buildings are starting to come off now, he said.
The record floods – which experts say were made worse by climate change – killed 1,735 people and displaced 33 million across Pakistan, mostly in the worst-hit provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan.
According to Pakistani officials, 647 children were among those killed in the floods.
UNICEF’s head of education, Robert Jenkins, visited some of the flood survivors on Thursday and later said it was unclear when children still missing classes would be able to return to school.
“Almost overnight, millions of Pakistani children lost their family members, their homes, their safety and their education, in the most traumatic of circumstances,” Jenkins said after the visit.
UNICEF has set up more than 500 temporary learning centers in flood-affected districts and provided support and school supplies to teachers and flood victims.
Pakistan has also asked the international community to step up aid to the country’s flood survivors, now threatened by next winter.
On Wednesday, China announced an additional $68 million in aid to Pakistan, bringing China’s flood aid to Pakistan to $150 million. The announcement came during the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to Beijing.
China has been by far the biggest contributor to Pakistan’s flood response, followed by Washington, which has provided $97 million in aid since June. The World Bank has estimated that the floods caused 40 billion dollars in damages.