20 September 2011Almost three quarters of crops in Pakistan’s flood-devastated province of Sindh have been destroyed or damaged, and nearly 37 per cent of the livestock lost or sold to avoid loss, a joint assessment mission of the United Nations humanitarian office and Pakistani Government officials has reported. An estimated 67 per cent of food stocks have also been destroyed and only 24 per cent of the affected population have access to markets, Elisabeth Byrs, the spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters in Geneva today.“At least five million surviving animals are at risk, lacking feed and shelter and facing increased exposure to debilitating diseases and worm infestations,” said Ms. Byrs.More than 5.4 million people have been affected by the flood in Sindh, with 1.8 million of them displaced from their homes in inundated villages, according to the mission, which also reported that there are 6,000 temporary settlements in the province.More than 6,000 schools had been damaged by the floods and 1,363 education facilities are currently being used as relief distribution sites, according to the assessment team that visited 16 districts in Sindh.The UN and its humanitarian partners have asked donors to fund a $357 million rapid response plan to support efforts by the Pakistani Government to respond to the needs of those affected by the floods.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is distributing tents and other emergency items to families who have been forced out of the homes by the floods, the agency’s spokesperson, Adrian Edwards, said.UNHCR also led a rapid protection assessment mission in Sindh. It reported that vulnerable groups in the flood-affected areas faced difficulties accessing assistance. Those groups included female-headed households, people with disabilities and minorities.“There are also problems of child/family separation, missing family members and loss of civil documentation such as national identity cards, which may hinder access to some types of assistance,” said Mr. Edwards. The assessment team also reported worsening of protection problems, including domestic violence, child labour and exploitation.