Archive for the ‘sindh’ tag
ISLAMABAD: The number of people suffering from the massive floods in Pakistan could exceed the combined total in three recent megadisasters – the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake – the United Nations said Monday.
The death toll in each of those three disasters was much higher than the 1,500 people killed so far in the floods that first hit Pakistan two weeks ago. But the Pakistani government estimates that over 13 million people have been affected - two million more than the other disasters combined.
The comparison helps frame the scale of the crisis, which has overwhelmed the Pakistani government and has generated widespread anger from flood victims who have complained that aid is not reaching them quickly enough or at all.
”It looks like the number of people affected in this crisis is higher than the Haiti earthquake, the tsunami or the Pakistan earthquake, and if the toll is as high as the one given by the government, it’s higher than the three of them combined,” Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told The Associated Press.
The UN has provided a lower number of people who have been affected in Pakistan, about 6 million, but Giuliano said his organization does not dispute the government’s figure. The UN number does not include the southern province of Sindh, which has been hit by floods in recent days, and the two sides have slightly different definitions of what it means to be affected.
The total number of people affected in the three other large disasters that have hit in recent years is about 11 million – 5 million in the tsunami and 3 million in each of the earthquakes – said Giuliano.
Many of the people affected by the floods, which were caused by extremely heavy monsoon rains, were located in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Rescue workers have been unable to reach up to 600,000 people marooned in the province’s Swat Valley, where many residents were still trying to recover from an intense battle between the army and the Taliban last spring, said Giuliano. Bad weather has prevented helicopters from flying to the area, which is inaccessible by ground, he said.
”All these people are in very serious need of assistance, and we are highly concerned about their situation,” said Giuliano.
Hundreds of thousands of people have also had to flee rising floodwaters in recent days in the central and southern provinces of Punjab and Sindh as heavy rains have continued to pound parts of the country.
One affected resident, Manzoor Ahmed, said Monday that although he managed to escape floods that submerged villages and destroyed homes in Sindh, the total lack of government help meant dying may have been a better alternative.
”It would have been better if we had died in the floods as our current miserable life is much more painful,” said Ahmed, who fled with his family from the town of Shikarpur and spent the night shivering in the rain that has continued to lash the country.
”It is very painful to see our people living without food and shelter,” he said.
Thousands of people in the neighboring districts of Shikarpur and Sukkur camped out on roads, bridges and railway tracks – any dry ground they could find – often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and perhaps a plastic sheet to keep off the rain.
”I have no utensils. I have no food for my children. I have no money,” said Hora Mai, 40, sitting on a rain-soaked road in Sukkur along with hundreds of other people. ”We were able to escape the floodwaters, but hunger may kill us.”
A senior government official in Sukkur, Inamullah Dhareejo, said authorities were working to set up relief camps in the district and deliver food to flood victims.
But an Associated Press reporter who traveled widely through the worst-hit areas in Sindh over the past three days saw no sign of relief camps or government assistance.
The worst floods in Pakistan’s history hit the country at a time when the government is already struggling with a faltering economy and a brutal war against Taliban militants that has killed thousands of people.
The US and other international partners have stepped in to support the government by donating tens of millions of dollars and providing relief supplies and assistance.
But the UN special envoy for the disaster, Jean-Maurice Ripert, said Sunday that Pakistan will need billions of dollars more from international donors to recover from the floods, a daunting prospect at a time when the financial crisis has shrunk aid budgets in many countries
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.