KARACHI: Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai met on Wednesday (Oct 12) with victims of Pakistan’s devastating monsoon floods, in only the second visit to her home country since being shot by the Taliban a decade ago.
Catastrophic flooding this summer put one-third of Pakistan under water, displaced eight million people, and caused at least an estimated US$28 billion in damage.
Yousafzai visited camps in rural Sindh province where she met families who have fled their submerged villages.
“The scale of the destruction is astounding and the psychosocial and economic impact on the lives of people, especially women and girls cannot be overstated,” Yousafzai said in a statement released by her organisation, the Malala Fund.
“World leaders must step up, accelerate their response plans and mobilise funds needed to help Pakistan rebuild and support impacted populations.”
The Malala Fund has committed up to US$700,000 to organisations in Pakistan.
More than three million children have also had their education disrupted while thousands of schools have been damaged.
Authorities are also battling a health crisis of malaria, dengue and malnutrition that has broken out among flood victims living in thousands of makeshift camps across the country.
Yousafzai was 15 years old when the Pakistani Taliban – an independent group that shares an ideology with the Afghan Taliban – shot her in the head over her campaign for girls’ education in the Swat Valley.
She was flown to Britain for life-saving treatment and went on to become a global education advocate and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The militant group, known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), waged a years-long insurgency that ended with a major military crackdown in 2014.
But the group has surged again in the region since the Taliban returned to power in Kabul last year, with thousands of people protesting on Tuesday against the deterioration in security.