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Aid begins to reach disaster-hit Sindh, Balochistan

[Pakistan] Many families in northern Pakistan find themselves back in relief camps following severe floods in the quake zone. [Date picture taken: 08/17/2006]
Some 250,000 people have become homeless in Balochistan because of cyclonic rains and flooding (Alex Jerrebo/IRIN)

Aid for the over 1.5 million people severely hit by cyclonic rains and flooding in Pakistan’s southern provinces of Sindh and Balochistan had by 2 July begun reaching those most seriously affected.

UN agencies, including the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF), have also begun attempts to reach people who, in some cases, have been marooned in their villages for up to four days.

The worst hit district is Turbat. Teams from international and national humanitarian organisations are moving in to provide relief but many villages are still inaccessible. Most items are being distributed on rowing boats or dropped from helicopters.

John Tulloch, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: "Our teams started working on 27th, one day after the cyclone struck coastal areas. And as we speak, 6,000 food parcels are being procured in Quetta and Karachi and will be transported to Turbat, Jaffarabad, Jal Magsi and Sibi by choppers. The food parcels contain rice, pulses, ghee, sugar, dried milk, tea and salt, etc."

International aid encouraged

“We are encouraging teams from international agencies to assist,” Arbab Ghulam Rahim, the provincial head of Sindh Province, told IRIN on 2 July.

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SRI LANKA: Over 120,000 affected by severe flooding in west

According to Pakistan’s relief commissioner, the official death toll is 100; 1.5 million people have been affected while 250,000 people have become homeless in Balochistan.

"People are in dire need of drinking water, shelter and medicines. And for that we are providing water pumps to access clean water,” Azhar ul Haq in Turba, field officer of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, said.

“Helpless for days”

“It has been a frightful situation. People have remained helpless for days, with no food or relief reaching them,” said Akreem Khan from the Jhal Magsi area about 270km southeast of Balochistan’s capital, Quetta. He said some people were living on rooftops or desperately trying to swim to seek help.

“At least 10 villages have been swept away in Khuzdar, 300km southeast of Quetta. Who knows how many have died,” said Farid Ahmed, provincial coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

HRCP and other relief agencies have condemned the failure to warn people of swollen rivers and overflowing dams, though the prime minister had earlier praised relief efforts and the early warnings issued.

Trapped

It has also been reported that at least 20,000 people in the Dadu District of Sindh, about 150km north of Karachi, are trapped in villages waiting to be rescued.

Qambar and Shadkot to the north of Dadu are still under floodwater, and 350,000 acres of land in Sindh Province are affected.

''It has been a frightful situation. People have remained helpless for days, with no food or relief reaching them.''

“There were breaches in canals which caused flooding,” the mayor of Qamnbar-Shadkot, Nawab Shabbir Ahmed Chandio, said.

“Army people and helicopters have given us flour, but we have no idea what will become of our homes, which are destroyed,” said Aleem Baloch, in the small port of Hub, some 50km west of Karachi.

Repairs to hundreds of boats damaged by the cyclone continue. “We need them as they are vital for our livelihood,” said Baloch, as he patched up the boat he uses to fish off Gadiani beach, a few kilometers from Hub.

“Ten helicopters are now engaged in rescue operations in Balochistan,” the Pakistan Military Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. Army personnel have also been deployed across Balochistan, and provincial home secretary Tariq Ayub told IRIN “medical teams have been dispatched to affected areas”.

However, as recovery efforts continue, the forecast is for further heavy rain across Sindh and Balochistan which can only worsen the situation.

kh/at/ar/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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