Archive for the ‘relief effort’ tag
ISLAMABAD: The worst floods in memory in Pakistan have devastated the lives of more than three million people so far, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday, and fury over the unpopular government’s response to the crisis is spreading.
The catastrophe, which started almost a week ago and has killed more than 1,400 people, is likely to deepen as more rains are expected and conditions are ripe for the outbreak of disease.
Pakistani authorities are struggling to help flood victims, many of whom have lost everything and say they had not received any warnings raging waters were heading their way.
Anger was palpable in towns such as Charsadda. A Reuters reporter saw people attacking trucks distributing relief items.
Police then charged at them with batons.
Bistma Bibi, 65, who lost two grandsons in the floods, accused state relief workers of only helping friends or relatives.
“I came here at 5 o’clock in the morning. I did my best. I begged and fought but got nothing. They’re giving them (supplies) to their people,” she said.
Unicef spokesman Abdul Sami Malik told Reuters of the more than three million affected, 1.3 million people were severely impacted by the floods in the northwest, losing homes and livelihoods. More than 1,400 have died, he said.
Religious charities, some with suspected ties to militants, have stepped in to provide aid, piling pressure on the government to show it can take control.
“Since the flood hit our area, I did not see any food or relief packets from the government. Their offices have been washed away or damaged,” said school teacher Yar Mohammad, waiting to cross a makeshift bridge over a river in Swat Valley.
Religious groups played a key role in the relief effort following a 2005 earthquake in Kashmir that killed 75,000 people.
Trying times for government
The government faces resilient militants, who often try to capitalise on a lack of civil services to recruit disillusioned Pakistanis to take up arms against the state.
Authorities forecast more of the heavy monsoon rains that have been lashing the area for the past week. Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said more than 29,500 houses were damaged and a key trade highway to China was blocked by flooding.
Waters have receded in some flooded areas. But Unicef’s Malik expressed concern that waters were spreading from the worst hit province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Pakistan’s Punjab heartland, the major food-producing province, as well as the Sindh region.
Several parts of southern Punjab have been hit by floods.
The army said that 20,000 people have been rescued there.
In the northwest, the bloated, infected carcasses of animals floated on the water, raising the spectre of diseases such as cholera. Food prices are also rising sharply as agriculture has been wiped out, adding to the people’s misery.
“Roads to some districts are no longer there. Coping mechanisms of people are lost because they don’t have any assets to sell to buy food,” said Mohammad Rafiq from Unicef.
Source : dawn news
Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Taliban faction on Tuesday urged the government to reject American aid for people affected by the nation’s worst floods in 80 years.
“The government should not accept American aid and if it happens, we can give 20 million dollars to them as aid for the flood victims,” Azam Tariq, a spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told AFP by telephone.
The most devastating floods in Pakistan’s living memory have affected up to 13.8 million people and killed an estimated 1,600 prompting the UN to prepare an appeal for several hundred million dollars for immediate relief.
“We will ourselves distribute relief under leadership of our chief Hakimullah Mehsud among the people if the government assures us that none of our members will be arrested,” Tariq said.
“We condemn American and other foreign aid and believe that it will lead to subjugation. Our jihad against America will continue.”
Washington has provided 35 million dollars in aid, including 436,000 halal meals and 12 pre-fabricated bridges.The White House said that US helicopters have helped to save more than 1,000 lives in Pakistan.
Critics say the relief effort was slow to get into gear and have heaped scorn on the unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari for pressing ahead with a visit to Europe at the height of the disaster.
Islamic charities, some with suspected links to extremist militants, are believed to have stepped into the breach on the ground, as international relief efforts mobilised.
The TTP, a key architect of a bombing campaign that has killed more than 3,570 people across Pakistan in three years, grabbed the global spotlight after the United States accused the group over a failed car bomb plot in New York in May.
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.