Flooding triggered by exceptionally heavy monsoon rains has claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people in Pakistan during the last three weeks. A country already deeply troubled by ongoing violence and political unrest, Pakistan must now deal with the anguish of up to 20 million people affected by high waters that have washed away crops and destroyed entire villages. Throughout the country, more than 4 million people are without homes and up to 3.5 million children are living under the constant threat of water-borne illnesses like cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery. It is a truly unfathomable situation.
“It is miserable,” said Sadia Kalsoom, tour manager of Walji’s, a large tour operators based in Islamabad. “Millions of people are without a home, the animals have died, crops have been destroyed. Some of the most beautiful valleys in our country have also collapsed, throwing another hard blow to the already suffering tourism industry.”
The people in the flood-stricken areas were already desperately impoverished, surviving at the most basic of living standards. The full extent of the new damage has not yet been fully realised, but the mass destruction has left those who had little with absolutely nothing. Currently, there is a desperate need for funds to build temporary shelters and toilets, and to provide clean drinking water to prevent a public health catastrophe. The locals are in dire need of medical care and basic food items, but aid on this scale will require substantial public support.
The Red Cross provides an update on the situation in Pakistan
How You Can Help
The people of Pakistan need our help. Oxfam is on the ground assisting 600,000 people in the hardest-hit areas: trucking in water and installing water tanks, building emergency toilets, providing sanitation kits and hygiene supplies to reduce the threat of disease. They are also distributing cooked meals and setting up work programs for locals to rebuild their towns and establish an income. Officials are hoping to raise US$6 million for their immediate and long-term response to the crisis; you can donate by visiting the Oxfam website.
Other relief organisations working within the country include Action Against Hunger, for whom the priority is on containing the spread of water-borne disease; the American Red Cross, which has committed US$1 million to the relief effort; and UNICEF, which has so far set up nine medical camps to provide treatment to flood victims. For a complete list of the aid organizations currently operating within Pakistan, click here.