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Over 30,000 displaced by Sindh, Balochistan floods

Following floods many families are living in tents.
(Kamila Hyat/IRIN)

Marvi Bibi, 20, appears almost as bewildered as her two-year-old son, as she stands by her tent in the small town of Dadu, several hundred kilometres north of Karachi in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh.

“We have been locked in a struggle for survival for the past two weeks. Water destroyed our home, and now we are here with just a few possessions we were able to rescue,” Marvi told IRIN in the tent shared by seven family members.

Since floods hit at least 6,000 villages across the southern provinces of Sindh and Balochistan earlier this month, the misery of thousands of people has grown, villagers said.

Heavy rains have aggravated damage caused by a cyclone that hit the coastal areas of the two provinces at the end of June, and the scale of the damage became clear only over the weeks that followed. Relief efforts were hampered by surging waves cutting off road access to many areas of southern Balochistan.

However, over the past 10 days, the authorities have stepped up relief efforts, possibly spurred on by criticism from victims and civil society groups that not enough had been done.

No encouragement for aid agencies?

There were also complaints that major international relief agencies had not been encouraged to step in.

More on Pakistan floods

Deaths reported as heavy rains lash the north

Receding waters leave behind deep resentment in Balochistan

Top official compares storm to 2005 earthquake

Aid begins to reach disaster-hit Sindh, Balochistan

Rains leave 100,000 homeless in Balochistan

Cyclone leaves devastation across Balochistan Province

But things are now changing, observers say. The Balochistan provincial government has demanded the crisis be treated on the same scale as the earthquake of October 2005.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), established last year to deal with such events, has taken over command of the rescue operation after the early days of chaos, and its chairman, Farooq Ahmed Khan, told reporters on 14 July that foreign donors had pledged over US$6 million for flood victims.

Death toll 340

The official figures now being provided also state that the death toll from the floods stands at 340, with 180 killed in Balochistan, 120 in Sindh and 60 in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Thousands have been shifted to 20 camps set up in Balochistan and over 90 in areas of western Sindh, but the devastation is continuing.

During the last two days, at least 30 more villages in Sindh, most of them located in and around Dadu, have been flooded, after water travelled down waterways from Balochistan.

Large scale flooding was reported on 16 July, after fresh rain further upstream.

The NDMA said currently 9,000 people were living in camps in Balochistan and at least 22,000 in Sindh. While food supplies and medicines are reaching them, people claim there are others who have not yet received adequate help.

“People in the Jaffarabad and Naseerabad districts on the eastern border of Balochistan have in some cases received almost no aid and now disease is spreading [there],” said Farooq Baloch, who works in Dadu but has family links in neighbouring areas of Balochistan.

Blocked roads

He added that blocked roads were hampering relief. Those living in camps too are anxious about the fate of their homes, their land and their livestock.

''We have been locked in a struggle for survival for the past two weeks. Water destroyed our home, and now we are here with just a few possessions we were able to rescue.''

“We have some basic supplies and we are safe. But as yet I don’t know if my house is still standing and whether any of my animals have survived,” said Sikander Khoro, 35, whose village, 5km from Dadu, was among those flooded when the banks of a drainage channel that runs through the district broke on 13 July.

He said currently “only tall trees and the roofs of houses can be spotted above the water line”. Mobile medical teams were meanwhile active in treating sick people.

Many teams are being flown to affected areas by military helicopters and Pakistan army teams have remained engaged in the task of setting up camps and rescuing people.

But while the situation has improved compared to that seen in the early days after the floods, there is still immense despair among affected people who have lost crops and homes. Life in tents and camps is difficult, while forecasts of further rain ahead as the monsoon intensifies its hold over Pakistan have only added to the misery of the thousands affected by the disaster.

kh/at/cb


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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