Islamabad, Pakistan – Activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai is visiting Pakistan’s flood-affected areas – her second visit to her home country since she was shot in the head while returning from school in 2012.
Pakistan is reeling from the aftermath of unprecedented floods caused by torrential rain and melting glaciers that submerged nearly one-third of the country and killed more than 1,700 people since June.
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The government, already battling a financial crisis, estimates the damage due to the deluge at $40bn, and has appealed to international bodies and other nations for aid and debt relief.
More than 33 million people were affected by the record floods. According to a satellite assessment conducted by the United Nations between October 3 and October 9, approximately 13 million of them remain “potentially exposed or living close to flooded areas”.
There is also a fear of the spread of waterborne diseases which have killed hundreds so far.
Yousafzai, 25, who is a UN “messenger of peace” and a global girls’ education campaigner, is accompanied by her husband and parents on her visit to Pakistan, home to 220 million people.
A statement issued by her foundation, Malala Fund, said the visit is aimed at keeping the international attention “focused on the impact of floods in Pakistan and reinforce the need for critical humanitarian aid”.
Last month, the foundation issued an emergency grant to the International Rescue Committee to provide support to girls in Balochistan, one of the worst-hit provinces by the floods.
Shortly after her arrival on Tuesday, Yousafzai visited a primary school in Karachi and spent an hour there.
Last month, the activist met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly in New York to discuss the challenges for millions of Pakistani children due to the catastrophic floods.
Yousufzai was 17 when she became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which she shared with India’s child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, in 2014.
Her visit also marks the 10th anniversary of the 2012 attack on her by members of the Pakistan Taliban armed group for her campaign for girls’ education in northwest Pakistan.
Incidentally, Yousafzai’s visit coincides with violence and unrest in her native place, the picturesque Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
On Monday, in an attack reminiscent of the attack on Yousafzai 10 years ago, a school van driver was shot dead and a boy wounded by an unknown attacker in the valley’s Charbagh town.
The killing triggered a large protest on Tuesday which was attended by thousands of demonstrators demanding better security for the residents.
On October 9, 2012, a 15-year-old Yousufzai was shot in the head when she was returning home from school. She was shifted to the United Kingdom for better treatment later that year, where she continues to live.