Archive for the ‘khyber’ 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
Looking around at the situation facing our home land, I find nothing more true than what Napoleon was noted saying toward the end of his reign…..
“ When misfortunes come, they come in a battalion”
Floods have played havoc all over Pakistan like never before. Initial estimates reveal that the flooding in KPK, Punjab and Sindh is the worst seen in over 80 years. Adding more salt to the wounds, new predictions have been made by the met department regarding more rainfalls in the effected areas. The death toll is rising every minute, while the list of those requiring relief is climbing to the sky.
For Pakistan and its natives, this is nothing new. From the day we came into being, we have always been tested to our limits. But its also true that the pages of history have been rewritten when ever we have been faced by such a situation. I have no reason to take you far behind in order to prove this point.
Just 5 years back on the dreadful morning of 8th October 2005, we were hit one of the most deadly earthquake of the 21st century. The whole infrastructure, relief apparatus and much more was transformed into dust. But, to the amazement of the entire planet, Pakistanis themselves fought their way out of this. From Khyber till Karachi tales lay written on every corner regarding the sacrifice we took upon our selves. Whatever the figures say, its crystal clear that for the 1st whole week it was the armed forces, local community and volunteers from every corner who spearheaded the relief effort. No doubt we were outstandingly supported by the International community to which we are still grateful, but it was our own courage as a nation which turned the tide around.
Having hardly recovered from that menace, we were struck by another catastrophe mid way into the last year. The inevitable military action against TTP in Swat left the homeland bleeding. On one hand our brave troops were fighting the barbarians while sacrificing their best, while at the same time grief stricken natives of that area had no option but to make a run for their life. It was estimated that around 2 million souls were made IDPs due to the fighting. To the amazement of the world who were predicting the fall of Islamabad to those “Zaliman’s”, not only were they defeated but every Pakistani came out to play the role of a host to those in need of help. The situation emerged so quickly but the spirit and sacrifice of Pakistani nation changed every thing.
Today as I write, the situation is no different from those dreadful days mentioned above. Millions are left homeless by the flooding while the danger is still looming close to them. It has been declared right away that the magnitude of this damage is much higher than the events mentioned earlier. Time has again tested our will as a nation, and the demand is of a greater effort than the one seen in the past.
We as individuals represent Pakistan as a whole, and its on our shoulders to carry ourselves forward. I won’t say there is a decrease in our spirit of sacrifice, but of course the response has been a bit slower. From my side it has all to do with our respectable leadership, whom no one trusts in the first place. But their attitude cannot deter us, we have to join hands collectively if time requires that from us. Make an effort, find organization like Edhi and others working for this cause, nominate volunteers from within the community and extend your help through them if necessary. But at any cost the people in need cannot be ignored. They are waiting for Pakistan for their relief, and each one of us makes Pakistan.
So go ahead and give your maximum to this cause, because nations are tested in these times, and we have to prove yet again that we are united against any issue faced by our mother land.
May Allah shower his blessing on this holy land and take us out of all these fortunes…….Ameen.
Image: An aerial view from a Pakistan army rescue helicopter shows personnel distributing water to flood-affected residents in Ghouspur, some 100 kilometers from Sukkur on on August 9, 2010. Around 13.8 million people have been affected by massive floods in Pakistan, making the scale of the disaster worse than the devastating 2004 tsunami, a UN official said.