Today, 14 August 2010 mark the 64th independence day of Pakistan but all official ceremonies have been called off due to the ongoing mega catastrophe. It’s been two weeks now that flood waters continued rushing down the Indus River in Pakistan creating havoc. High waters had traveled more than 1,000 kilometers from the northern reaches of the country to breadbasket in Punjab Province, and on to Sindh Province. According to assessments so far, about 20 million people have been affected, 1,600 people killed, 300,000 homes have been destroyed and 2.6m acres (105,000 sq km) of croplands submerged. The figures are expected to climb in the coming days.
The spectrum of the destruction is so wide that UN refugee agency, UNHCR, warned that its capacity to cope up with the crisis is being tested to its limits. Sadly the by and large response to flood disaster has been ungenerous as compared with previous disasters like earthquake 2005. It has been alleged that more than £300 million in foreign aid for victims of the 2005 earthquake has been diverted by Asif Zardari’s government to other causes that will deter donors from giving further aid. Within Pakistan the influx of donations is also on a low scale probably due to the trust deficit on the government and disaster management authorities.
It is by far the worst humanitarian crisis, still in the making as the displaced people are still waiting for aid, specially food and medicines to reach them but blocked access routes, collapsed bridges, lack of dry land to erect tents, lack of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities and shortage of relief supplies are hampering the relief efforts. People are fighting over the dropped food packages as evident in the picture below published in yesterday’s paper.
Around 36,000 cases of diarrhea have so far been reported across the flood affected areas. Dams in southern Sindh province could still burst in the coming days as swollen rivers gush through. The United Nations warned that the crisis was far from over as more rains are expected over the weekend and monsoon season is forecast to last several more weeks.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon will be visiting the areas devastated by the record floods and speed up relief efforts to restrain the country’s worst humanitarian crisis. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated that the scale of destruction from monsoon flooding surpassed the devastation from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 northern Pakistan earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined. The United Nations has appealed for $US460 million of which $US175 million has been committed so far, but billions will be needed in the long term to rebuild infrastructure.
Ya Rab kahin se bhej day soraj ka Saiban
Badal ki ankh hai meray kachay makan per
Let’s pledge to donate generously and help all our countrymen in adversity. God help those who help themselves. If you are not willing to help your brothers and sisters who else will? Don’t raise questions of credibility of anyone to deal with the crisis. The situation is so terrible that you have to see it to believe it. Reach out there to understand and help. Please don’t stop your donations for flood victims even it is a single rupee.
Long live Pakistan.