Slide Show: Pakistanis Hit Twice By Monsoon Flooding

BY Larisa Epatko  September 28, 2011 at 12:02 PM EDT

Pakistanis are trying to cope after being besieged by flooding for a second year in a row.

In August 2010, heavy rains and subsequent flooding displaced 2 million and left at least 1,000 dead.

This year, another unusually severe monsoon season caused an estimated 200,000 to flee their homes and seek emergency shelter, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. (View the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report on the Pakistan monsoon issued Sept. 23.) At least 200 people have died.

The flooding is as severe as last year but is intensified in fewer areas — mainly southern Sindh province and parts of Balochistan province along the Indus River — so fewer people are affected, said Tim Irwin, a UNHCR spokesman based in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. Weeks later, the waters still have not receded, so some areas are difficult to reach to deliver aid.

It’s also hard to find high ground for pitching tents, Irwin said. “With this flood, the settlements are relatively small — anywhere from 60 to 100 tents — and that’s because of the scarcity of dry land.”

Teams of government officials and other local and international non-governmental organizations go out everyday to scout out areas that need assistance.

“People were really only starting to get back on their feet,” Irwin said. “They had lost everything in 2010, and had begun to rebuild and plant new crops and repair their homes, and then they got hit again.”

Many of those affected are farmers, and in addition to losing the crops they planted before the rains, they are unable to plant their next crops, he said.

“These are people who are living off the land, and that land is not accessible to them now. And so if you take into account what they went through this last year, then the need is very great.”

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