Archive for the ‘cholera’ tag
PESHAWAR: Fears grew Monday about outbreaks of disease among 1.5 million people affected by Pakistan’s worst floods in 80 years after monsoon rains killed more than 1,100 people across the northwest.
Unprecedented rains triggered floods and landslides, sweeping away thousands of homes and devastating farmland in one of Pakistan’s most impoverished regions, already hard hit by years of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked violence.
Officials warn that a lack of drinking water is spreading cholera and gastroenteritis, saying they are working to evacuate people from affected areas such as Swat, the scene last summer of a major offensive against the Taliban.
“We estimate that about 100,000 people, mostly children, have been hit by cholera and gastro diseases,” said Syed Zahir Ali Shah, the health minister for the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Our priority is to first evacuate them to safe areas and then provide them with medical treatment.
“In cut-off areas and parts of Swat we have sent medical teams by helicopter,” he told AFP.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon pledged aid of up to 10 million dollars to meet the humanitarian needs of those affected by the crisis, saying he was “deeply saddened” by the floods.
The US government announced a 10-million-dollar aid pledge and has rushed helicopters and boats to Pakistan. China has also promised 1.5 million dollars, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Anwer Kazmi, a spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, said at least 1,256 people had been killed and that Swat was the worst affected district with 475 deaths.
“Food and shelter are the most critical needs of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people… the situation is seriously affecting the health of children and women in particular,” he told AFP.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said earlier that the floods had killed more than 1,100 people and affected over 1.5 million in the province, but had warned the death toll could rise further.
“We are also getting confirmation of reports about an outbreak of cholera in some areas of Swat,” he said.
Pakistan’s meteorological department forecast downpours of up to 200 millimetres in the next two weeks across the northwest, Pakistani-administered Kashmir, the central province of Punjab and Sindh in the south.
Television footage and photographs have shown people clinging to the walls and rooftops of damaged houses as water rushed through villages.
Hundreds of survivors have sought shelter in schools in Peshawar and Muzaffarabad, many having escaped the floods with children on their backs.
“My family is sheltering in a school, but no clean drinking water, food or medicine has been given to us,” Fahimud Din, 27, from the Charsadda neighbourhood of Peshawar, told AFP.
“My son is suffering from cholera, but there is no doctor,” he said.
He joined scores of flood victims who demonstrated for a second day, protesting against the sluggish relief effort in Peshawar.
The crowd shouted “give us aid sent by foreign countries” and “death to the corrupt government.”
Pakistan’s military and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) have been coordinating the relief effort, saying they have rescued more than 28,000 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by helicopter and boat.
The NDMA said nearly 30,000 homes had been damaged across the country.
In Pakistani-administered Kashmir, flooding and landslides killed 53 people, said Mehmood Khan, the head of the local Disaster Management Authority.
Riaz Khawaja, a television cameraman, who walked to Muzaffarabad over four days from Neelum valley spoke of scenes of devastation.
“There is destruction everywhere along the way and severe food shortages have hit the Neelam valley
Today, news agencies report that Sindh province is currently bracing for a second round of heavy floods, and authorities warn “it could be as big as the first wave, which displaced millions and destroyed thousands of homes.” According to Al Jazeera English, “Authorities said waters have unexpectedly begun to rise at the Kotri barrage along the Indus river in southern Sindh, and now threaten to overrun the embankments around the barrage. Flooding at Kotri could potentially threaten the city of Hyderabad.”
So far, more than 1,600 have been confirmed dead since the flooding began in Pakistan two weeks ago, though this toll will rise as the disaster continues to spread and the threat of water-borne diseases like cholera rises. Villages have been swept away. Hundreds of families have been displaced from their homes, their livelihoods destroyed. Over 14 million people have been affected by these floods, more than the 2004 Tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined.
Since the flooding began, I have laid awake at night, haunted by the images of the tragedy – families wading through what was once their homes, villages submerged under water, people frantically escaping to safe areas not already destroyed by the floods. This disaster is bigger than anything you or I have seen in recent years. But it is not productive to just lament about the loss and tragedy of this disaster. It is not enough to hang our heads or blame leaders for their lack of action. If we want to help the millions suffering, we have to actuallydo something to help.
As many of you know, I’m the director of Social Vision, the venture philanthropy arm of ML Resources. Social Vision provides seed funding and support for innovative initiatives and social entrepreneurs/enterprises in their earliest stages. Earlier this week, I received a call from my friend, Mahnaz Fancy, who was one of the founders of Pakistani Peace Builders, a new initiative of Pakistani-Americans and concerned global citizens, the group behind the recentSufi Music Festival in New York City. Mahnaz shared many of my same frustrations about responses to the disaster, and offered the most time-sensitive solution – a grassroots donation campaign to benefit the millions impacted by the floods in Pakistan, a campaign that would appeal to bothPakistanis and non-Pakistanis.
We got to work immediately, designing a campaign that would leverage social media and grassroots giving to fund raise in the most efficient way possible. Therefore, rather than five people giving funds to five different (albeit all well-deserving) organizations, this campaign would enable those same five people to donate to one relief organization, an agency we had thoroughly vetted and were in close contact with. Therefore, the campaign aims to centralize donations in order to maximize impact of those funds.
This of course was a lot easier said than done, given the tremendous work of numerous relief agencies on the ground, both international and Pakistani. However, after much deliberation and due diligence, ML Social Vision and PPB chose Mercy Corps, a global aid agency, as the direct recipient of these donations. We made this decision based on Mercy Corps’ stellar reputation and credibility in the West and on the ground, its transparency, its ability to respond quickly to emergencies, and its previous work in Pakistan. Not only has the organization already launched its fundraising appeal, it also coordinates directly with local communities and organizations in Pakistan. Mercy Corps also doesn’t attempt to do too much, and instead concentrates on doing things well – it’s currently focusing on providing clean water, staple foods and clean-up tools for affected families mainly in Swat Valley and Sindh, two of the worst hit areas.
On Thursday, our campaign – Relief4Pakistan – went live, and we set our first fundraising goal at $100,000, with ML Social Vision providing the first $10,000to jump start the campaign. Since then, we have managed to raise over$19,000, which is fantastic, but we still have a way to go before hitting our goal. So please, donate by clicking here. Every dollar (or foreign currency!) counts. The money will go directly towards Mercy Corps and will be earmarked for their flood efforts. You can also join our Facebook page, where you will receive updates on our progress, news on the disaster, as well as updates we will post from Mercy Corps’ efforts on the ground. Given that tomorrow is Pakistan Day, there is nothing more patriotic you can do than donate or support the numerous families affected by the floods. If you decide to hold your own fundraiser, and are not sure where to donate the funds you receive, please feel free to contact us or donate it directly.
At a time of such tremendous tragedy, the best way to make a difference is to help. Thanks and Happy Pakistan Day!