EMERGENCY PAKISTAN: Mushtaq Anjum, MI
The 2010 Pakistan floods began in July 2010 following heavy monsoon rains in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan regions of Pakistan. Present estimates indicate that over two thousand people have died and over a million homes have been destroyed since the flooding began. The United Nations estimates that more than 21 million people are injured or homeless as a result of the flooding, exceeding the combined total of individuals affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. However, the death count in each of those three disasters was significantly higher than the number of people killed so far in the floods. At one point, approximately one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area was underwater due to the flooding.
Officials have warned that the death-toll could rise, as many towns and villages are not accessible, and communications have been disrupted. In some areas, the water level was 5.5 m (18 ft) high and residents were seen on roof-tops waiting for aid to arrive. At least 1,588 people have been injured, 222,600 houses and 4,600 villages have been damaged or destroyed. The ongoing devastating floods in Pakistan will have a severe impact on an already vulnerable population, says the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In addition to all the other damages the floods have caused, floodwaters have destroyed much of the health care infrastructure in the worst-affected areas, leaving inhabitants especially vulnerable to water-borne disease.
In early August, the heaviest flooding moved southward along the Indus River from severely-affected northern regions toward western Punjab, where at least 1,400,000 acres (570,000 ha) of cropland was destroyed, and the southern province of Sindh. The crops affected were cotton, sugarcane, rice, pulses, tobacco and animal fodder. Floodwaters and rain destroyed 700,000 acres (3,000 km2) of cotton, 200,000 acres (800 km2) acres each of rice and cane, 500,000 tonnes of wheat and 300,000 acres (1,000 km2) of animal fodder.
Aid agencies have warned that outbreaks of diseases, such as: gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and skin diseases due to lack of clean drinking water and sanitation can pose a serious new risk to flood victims. On 14 August, the first documented case of cholera emerged in the town of Mingora, striking fear into millions of stranded flood victims, who are already suffering from gastroenteritis and diahorrea.
In affected Multan Division in South Punjab, some people were seen to be engaging in profit-taking in this disaster, raising their prices up to Rs 130/kg.
It has been reported that members of Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community, who were caught up in floods in Muzaffargarh, were not rescued from their homes because rescuers felt that Muslims must be given priority. Ahmadi Muslims complained to the government that not only were they not rescued but in some instances ejected from relief camps when their identity was disclosed. Ahmadis were declared a non-Muslim minority by the Pakistani government which prevented them to ‘pose as Muslims’ and have faced continued persecution. Human Rights Commision of Pakistan condemned the denial of relief to Ahmadis. It also stated “The commission has noted with concern reports of lack of provision of relief goods to flood-affected Ahmadi families, expulsion of displaced Ahmadis from a government school in Dera Ghazi Khan and rented lodgings elsewhere in southern Punjab after clerics’ pressure as well as issuance of edicts by clerics that affected Ahmadis must not be provided help.”
Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s diplomat to the United Nations, has alleged that wealthy feudal warlords and landowners in Pakistan have been diverting funds and resources away from the poor and into their own private relief efforts. Landowners in Sindh and Punjab, who have enormous influence and sit on most of the committees set up to identify vulnerable beneficiaries, can sometimes be an impediment to the smooth delivery of aid. The discrimination against minorities and landlords’ influence have many significant bearings on the distribution of aid. Therefore, it is of great importance that the aid groups distribute the aid by themselves.
Across Pakistan there are still marooned villages like Reikhbaghwala, a few kilometres from the overflowing River Indus in Punjab Province, where no assistance has been received in over a month.
Densely populated Punjab has the highest number of people affected by the floods – more than 8.2 million – of which 5.3 million need help urgently. Of the province’s 36 districts, Rajanpur has been hit hardest, with 1.3 million people affected.
I focused on Punjab based on my research and availability of our network.
In the Punjab Province, we have the most number of dioceses and Catholics. I wish that we can extend our intervention and operation in two dioceses, namely FAISALABAD AND MULTAN, both are part of the Punjab province. In the map below, green spot is the areas where the Lombardo Venetian province through PROSA has been helping for the past 5 years. It also touches the boundary with Faisalabad.
Looking at the data from various news agencies and news channels, I feel that people still need much help in the following areas:
Food: Rice, bread, crackers, milk and clean drinking water (deep well)
- DEEP WELL:Water
Deep well/ Tube well
This kind of water system, we need to multiply because we cannot afford to bring so much mineral water. The people can use this clean water for washing clothes, personal hygine and other purposes. We don’t know how long the people are going to stay there in case of flooded areas where the floods are 18 feet and above. The provision of clean water will minimize the spread of water born and skin diseases.
The temperature goes very high during the day. People have made temporary tents with their clothes, bed sheets and blankets. Living a life of misery. They need tents, mats, blankets, emergency lights, flashlights and candles. Because during the night any thing can happen. These things will help them to secure themselves.
- CLOTHES: clothes and slippers
I have seen in the news that so many people just ran to save their lives, leaving their belonging behind.
- SANITARY SUPPLIES
water, soap, towel, tissue paper, hand sanitizer, diapers, toothbrush and toothpaste and so on
- WASTE MANAGEMENT
One of the most crucial element is WASTE MANAGEMENT AND SANITATION. Hundreds of thousands of people are living under the open sky, just with the strangers. Women have no privacy at all. Some are giving birth in the open. For the biological needs, they have no privacy. They need portable comfortrooms/toilets, and plastic waste basket.
a) Medicines- vitamins, antibiotics (for respiratory and gastrointestinal infections) , vaccines, anti-diarrheal drugs, rehydration solution, cough syrup, antifungal creams, antibiotic cream, anti-histamines
b) Medical Personnel- doctors, nurses, paramedics
8.SPIRITUAL/ PSYCHOSOCIAL/EMOTIONAL SUPPORT/DEBRIEFING
– priests and other religious leaders, psychologist, social welfare
We will adopt the strategy of DO NO HARM in our pastoral care of the people on humanitarian basis. We will equip them with some skills by giving them talk/modules
9.LONG TERM PLAN
Our long term plan is REHABILITATION. So many have lost their livestock, houses and belongings. Some have left nothing. This can be realized in/through:
- Help them in buying construction material
- Help them build their homes
- The construction work could be done by the community itself; they will/can help each other in rebuilding their own homes.
- Help them rebuild their healthcare centers which have been washed away or damaged.
In order to materialize our above mentioned idea, I suggest that:
- Our Provincial superior Fr. Rolly can/may write an appeal letter to the Archbishop of Manila and other Archdiocese in the Philippines to have second collection in different churches and that money could be sent to an account for the flood victims. And other donations can be sent in the scholasticate since they know how to organize already. This can facilitate the process. In my knowledge, I didn’t hear that any group is working for the flood victims, there might be one. But surely we are working, so we could be a good channel for the people to send their donations through CTF
- Fr. Aris and Bro. Mushtaq can go to Pakistan, get in touch with our project going on and get in touch with some Church members and find ways how to extend our intervention to other places
- We can ask assistance from other confreres in any possible manner.
- I will try my best to get some help from other catholic institutions in terms of men power with the cooperation of the bishop of Faisalabad and bishop of Multan
- Some medicines can be asked/requested from Taiwan
- Mobilize our CTF in the Philippines to find some ways/means to support of would-be project.