PAKISTAN: The AHRC appeals to the international community and humanitarian organizations to assist the flood victims before another catastrophe occurs 

AHRC-STM-123-2011-01.jpgThe Asian Human Rights Commission urges the world community and the international donors to help the more than eight million flood affected people from Sindh province who are under severe threat from widespread disease. The flooding has affected 22 out of the 23 districts in Sindh. The affected people need life-saving help. The flood waters have not yet started to recede and people are continuously migrating from one place to another place looking for a dry place to settle. The main roads, which above the flood levels are filled with men, women and animals but that will only continue until the waters have reached that level.

AHRC-STM-123-2011-02.jpgThe affected people are totally deprived of potable drinking water and depend on the flood water which is the main cause of gastroenteritis and if allowed to run unabated will lead to the deaths of many people. The children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable, especially in their weakened condition due to malnutrition. There are hospitals in the rural areas but they are also affected by the flooding and little if any facilities are available. The chance of outbreaks of malaria and dengue is very high as no sufficient measures have yet been taken by the government.

There are already reports of 2,000 cases of gastroenteritis and mosquito-borne diseases from Khairpur, Tharparker, Ummer Kot, Mirpurkhas, Sangahar, Badin and Thatta. However, the actual number is certainly very much higher due to the lack of communications. Despite reports by the government that supplies are being delivered in the way of tents, food and medicines the provision of such aid is impossible due to the standing water. Also, no proper communications have been set up so there is no way for the victims to call for the assistance they so badly need. The only way of delivering the relief supplies is by helicopter and the government is claiming now that they are in short supply. However, it is appalling that these helicopters seem to be available when ministers and other government officials wish to visit the affected areas. The agony of the people can be imagined when one of these helicopters arrives but instead of food and medicines they deliver only cameramen and ministers.

AHRC-STM-123-2011-03.jpgThe recent flooding comes in the wake of the catastrophe of the previous year. If the aid and promises of the government are anything to go by then there is little hope for the newly affected families as over 800,000 victims of last year’s flood are still awaiting assistance. A recent report by Oxfam stated that: “…. there is a widespread lack of adequate shelter, malnutrition rates are high and many who are still displaced do not have the means to return home, or anywhere to return to.”

The report went on to say “……. much of the country is still not covered by early warning systems and many flood defences that were destroyed in last year’s disaster are not yet properly repaired………..Pakistan needs to act now. Investing in measures today that reduce the impact of disasters is essential to save lives and safeguard development gains in the future,”

The districts of Sindh has seen almost constant migration during the last year with families moving from one place to another seeking arable land which is available for them to settle on. The situation has led to the survival of the fittest and in what has become a shameful situation for the government is that some communities pay more attention to their livestock than they do to their elderly as this is the only means by which they can survive. They are forced to choose between their family members and their cattle.

It is now estimated that 700,000 homes have been destroyed, seven million acres of land are inundated and the loss in standing crops is estimated to be Rs. 70 billion. Thousands of commercial and industrial establishments have either had to close down or been destroyed.

This then is the situation that the international community must be made aware of. Aid is needed urgently but it will be of little use to the affected people if, as in the past and the present, the aid is lost to corrupt officials and wastage due to mismanagement.

We appeal to the international donors and the world community to come forward with the desperately required aid and assistance. Aid is necessary from outside Pakistan because the people of the country have no faith that anything they donate will be received by the people they are trying to help. We therefore appeal to the government of Pakistan to show complete transparency and accountability when receiving and distributing this aid.

* photograph with courtesy from BBC Urdu

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-123-2011
Countries : Pakistan,
Campaigns : Flood in Pakistan
Issues : Right to food, Right to health, Right to remedy,