Humanitarian crisis erupts with Pakistan ahead of most severe climate change storm – Global issues

Escaped from the flood water is a family with livestock. The family was caught up in a devastating stream in Taluka Jhudo, Mirpurkhas District. Credit: Research and Development Fund (RDF)
  • by Zofeen Ebrahim (karachi)
  • Associated Press Service

The Pakistani government has declared a national emergency with more than 30 million people without shelter. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 66 districts have been officially declared ‘catastrophic’ by the Pakistani government – 31 in Balochistan, 23 in Sindh, nine in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and three in Punjab. Many have likened destruction to 2010 super flood.

With government resources stretched and communications disrupted, flood survivors complained that help was scarce.

Saeeda Khatoon, 28, likened her village Zakaria Mahesar to three famous villagesrd millennium BC Moenjodaro . Ruins of the ancient Indus civilization, in her district of Larkana, in the province of Sindh, after rains destroyed more than 200 houses, some made of mud and straw and others, like hers, of brick . She and 11 members of her family found temporary shelter on higher ground, on the outskirts of the village, under clear skies, unprotected from unpredictable monsoon rains. .

“Water flooded our house all of a sudden, and we rushed out just before the roof collapsed,” she said, rendering them homeless. With the water still waist-deep, she said there was no way to get their belongings from under the rubble.

The monsoon season hit Pakistan this year in June, earlier than usual. Torrential rains continued into July, with above-average rainfall of 181%. The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said it rained 177.5mm compared to the normal 63.1mm, making this July the wettest since 1961.

“July 2022 rainfall is above average for Balochistan (+450%) and Sindh (+307%), both of which rank as wettest in 62 years,” PMD’s said. monthly summary. And the rains continued to slam into the country in late August, spreading further devastation across the Punjab, KP and Gilgit-Baltistan provinces, after Balochistan and Sindh were annihilated.

Follow National Disaster Management Agency, the downpours have wreaked havoc across Pakistan, killing nearly 1,000 people and injuring more than 1,400 since June. More than half of the casualties came from Balochistan and Sindh province.

More than 3,000 km of the road network has been damaged, of which more than 2,300 km are in Sindh, making it difficult for the government and NGOs to access and rescue. “The whole province is flooded with floodwaters and roads are crisscrossed; it’s difficult to access and provide relief,” said Inayatullah Ismail, senior manager and coordinator of the non-profit Al Khidmat Welfare Association. “We are providing tents for displaced people and will set up kitchens on highways where people are looking for shelter.”

“Since the past three days, our teams have distributed cooked food to nearly 30,000 flood victims, who have set up makeshift camps around RDF offices,” Soomro said.

Aqsa Iqbal, a volunteer with Serve Humanity Together, said: “It is best to give cooked meals because displaced people will find it difficult to cook because they have lost everything.” She suggests: “Everyone who is providing cooked food to those affected may also want to add bottles of drinking water, packaged snacks or cookies, juices and fruit (dates) ).

She added that rescue and relief workers had difficulty reaching people trapped in remote villages surrounded by stagnant rainwater.

“Many of these are young volunteers with enthusiasm but no professional training,” says Iqbal. “Walking in water, even shallow, is very difficult and there’s always fear that they might get caught in the water,” says Iqbal. snake bite or fall into a pothole”. . That’s why, she says, it’s best to move those affected by floods to dry land, where it’s easier to provide them with food, water and medicine.

To date, the NDMA has recorded nearly 680,000 homes affected, of which more than 58,000 are in Sindh alone. As many as 19,000 homes in Sindh were destroyed.

“I have never seen a bigger disaster in my life,” said Sindh Premier Murad Ali Shah after visiting Sindh’s flood-affected districts. He said his government was stressed about funding and had run out of tents and food. More than 10 million people in Sindh have become homeless.

The Sindh government has officially contacted NGOs to ask for help in rescue and relief work.

Rani Malukhani, a social activist from Khuda Baksh Marri, a village in Sanghar district, said they were starving and sitting by the roadside with nothing to shield themselves from the pouring rain. “Where is the government; where are the NGOs?” she said over a WhatsApp video call, showing how her community is sitting stuck on the side of the road.

“Our homes and crops have been destroyed,” she cried in anguish.

Azra Gandehi, who works with the NGO, Research and Development Foundation (RDF), confirms: “There are almost 700 people in this village and all are sitting along the two sides of a 2-3 km long road. under the sky. She is visiting the village for a preliminary survey and damage assessment so that she can return with assistance. “The water was chest-deep, and all had to evacuate with their livestock.”

In the neighboring Mirpur Khas district, things are not much better. Motan Bheel, 52, with his five children and two goats, from Jhudo village, had to wade through waist-deep water to reach the safe shores of Puraan (a side culvert that collects salt water, agricultural wastewater and floodwaters to the Arabian Sea). She said: “There is always water around, but it is not possible to drink a single drop. “We have not received any help from the government, NGOs or benefactors.”

Irfan Hussain, who works with RDF and helps Mirpur Khas district government in the rescue work, explains: “They had to walk almost three kilometers to get water, but because they didn’t have enough ships to carry water and large containers. to contain, they have to keep going back and forth.”

Bheel said her 14-year-old has been suffering from a high fever for the past two days and fears it could be malaria. “There was nowhere to look for help, and I had no money,” she said.

Hussain said she and half of the villagers (from 250 households) living on either side of the river need urgent tents, mosquito nets and healthcare to fight malaria, diarrhea and scabies.

The government has turned schools and factories into relief camps, but Gandehi, who has visited some, found them “overcrowded”.

Indus Resource Center, an NGO, has operated 17 schools, managed 5 government schools and 25 non-formal post-primary centers, in Khairpur district, for the past 22 years. Sadiqa Salahuddin, the head of the IRC, sent a petition for help. She said 10 IRC schools, including five government schools, have been turned into detention centers for nearly 7,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), and the number is growing daily.

The Larkana district government has set up about 290 camps around 28,500 everyone has been changed. But people are not satisfied because of the lack of basis say they spent sleepless nights “because of the huge swarm of mosquitoes”. The government has enrolled nearly 184,061 people in camps set up in 117 districts across the country.

RDF is also helping livestock agencies vaccinate animals to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks.

Ashfaque Soomro, chief executive officer of RDF, said more than 17,600 animals were vaccinated and 8,000 dewormed in the past two days in Tando Allahyar, Matiari, Mipur Khas, Thatta and Tharparkar districts during the floods. Our reach is in ten other counties. “

The government has made an international appeal for relief and recovery. The European Union announced €350,000 as vital humanitarian assistance focused on addressing the urgent needs of the hardest hit districts of Jhal Magsi and Lasbela in Balochistan.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also called on the nation to provide the necessary Rs 80 billion for relief work along with “hundreds of billions of rupees” for the rehabilitation of the victims.

Report of the United Nations Office IPS

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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