Geneva: Thousands of people displaced by huge floods in Pakistan are likely to spend the winter in camps, the UN refugee agency said on Friday, dashing hopes that all survivors might return home swiftly.
"Three months after floods hit Pakistan, UNHCR believes tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people will have to remain in camps throughout the winter," said Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
"Those hardest hit by the flooding -- people affected by extreme poverty, loss of livelihoods and other vulnerabilities -- may need camp accommodation even longer,” he told journalists.
Edwards blamed the delay on the persistence of more than one metre of standing waters in southern Baluchistan and Sindh provinces.
"Earlier in the emergency, the expectation was that camps would be short-lived and that people would return to their areas of origin with their tents to rebuild," he said.
More camps are being set up in south Pakistan, while demand for blankets and quilts was growing as winter approaches.
The floods in July affected 21 million people, and 7.2 million are still affected in one way or another, the UN estimates.
The World Health Organisation said that 141 cases of cholera, which can be carried by contaminated water, have been confirmed in the flood-hit areas.
"Cases of cholera are being reported sporadically and intensive efforts are ongoing to both prevent new cases and provide treatment for people suffering from diarrhoeal diseases, such as cholera," said WHO spokesman Paul Garwood.
Cholera is endemic in Pakistan, according to the UN health agency.