The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates around 33 million people, including approximately 16 million children, have been affected by this year's heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan, which have brought devastating rains, floods and landslides. The biblical floods have washed away entire villages, leaving millions in need of immediate, life-saving support, as well as an increased risk of waterborne diseases and malnutrition.

As the floodwaters recede, they are revealing the sheer scale of the widespread damage. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed, including public health facilities, water systems and schools. Families are living out in the open with no drinking water, no food and no livelihood, exposed to a wide range of new flood-related risks and hazards, including from damaged buildings and drowning in still-standing floodwaters.

The human cost of the tragedy is ten-fold that of the loss of life, property and infrastructure.

There have been several horrific stories of flood affectees - watching their loved ones being swept away by the unforgiving waters, parents being compelled to make tough decisions such as whether to save their drowning child or the cow that could feed their six remaining children, or leaving behind their dying parents in order to save their children and so on. Making such heart-wrenching, tough decisions would be trauma-inducing for anyone, let alone someone who is also experiencing a complete disruption of their livelihood.

The psychological effects of the devastation caused by the floods are more drastic among children, women and the elderly population. It is imperative they receive psychosocial support

A medical camp arranged earlier this month at the TH Hospital Taunsa Sharif by the Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences Department of Nishtar Medical University, in collaboration with the Pakistan Psychiatric Society, found that people visiting the camp were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. The psychological effects of the flood are more drastic among children, women and the elderly population that is dependent on others.

Natural calamities such as floods put significant psychological and social stress on individuals, families and communities. People not only experience distress during their migration, but their squalid living conditions at relief camps also impose significant mental distress.

Those displaced experience grave loss, pain...

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