By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services A wizened man whose mirthful eyes suggest more mischief than age, Ariz smirks when asked how old he is. “More than 50,” he said, to the chuckles of his friends and family standing nearby. There hasn’t been a lot to smile about lately though. The floods that tore through his village in southern Pakistan last summer stole much from Ariz – his land, his livestock, and most painfully, his son, Nazeef, who was to be married in one month. “I miss him very much.”
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services “Ours was a love marriage,” said Soomri, a frail woman with almond-shaped eyes that seem to dance when thinks about her youth. “He was the only literate man in town,” she said of her husband, “And we were both favored by our parents.” The 75-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 23 lives in a small village in the northeast corner of Pakistan’s Sindh province. Described by her extended family as easily distracted, Soomri seems like she’d just rather tell stories than worry about anything else. With whoever will listen to her, she talks … about her village and the weather and her children. But mostly she talks about her husband.
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services Dulshan Bajkani looks to be about 23 years old, but she says she doesn’t know for sure. Regardless of her age, she’s endured more in the last six months than any woman in her twenties should have to bear. Her nightmare began in early August, when record rainfalls throughout Pakistan caused the nearby Indus River to overflow its banks. She remembers hearing about the floods on the news; some people the village left right away but many others thought the warnings were exaggerated and stayed. But the water did come – in the middle of the night – and Dulshan, her husband, and her three daughters fled quickly. Most people left everything behind in the panic that ensued, running away without shoes or scarves and having time only to grab frightened children.
By Mumtaz Bashir Bhatti, Caritas Pakistan Floods in Pakistan have displaced millions of people, destroyed billions of rupees worth of houses, killed many and washed away all belongings in rural communities from North to South. Is this what global warming looks like? Many scientists think it is. If it was, it is very clear that women and children will be the most affected. When I visited different parts of Southern Pakistan affected by the flood, I found that women and children under the age of 10 were at high risk, and many have been died because of different diseases. There is no immediate food shortage in the country, as Pakistan had its bumper crop last season, but billions of acres of rice and pulse crops has been washed away, which may cause the shortage and high prices in next few months in the country. The situation may deteriorate if farmers miss the winter sowing [...]
By Kamran Chaudhry On August 3, Zakaullah broke his right leg while fleeing from his house as floodwaters rose. “It was midnight. The rangers had raised the alarm that the water from Indus River would enter our village any moment but we kept hoping otherwise”, he said “I slipped in panic and broke my right leg on the spot”. Zakaullah was rushed to Fazalpur, a city about 8 kilometres from his home, where he was treated and now he walks with a help of a zimmer frame. He was one of the 900 beneficiaries at a Caritas distribution in Basti Lashari, a village in Rajan Pur district. But Basti Lashari was chosen for another reason, says the medical social worker who assisted Caritas team. “More than one disabled children in a single family is common here. The peasant women are usually on bare feet and do not use gloves to protect their hands during [...]
Anila J.Gill, Caritas Pakistan director, spoke to Kamran Chaudhry about the recent challenges in dealing with country’s most catastrophic floods which has affected more than 20 million people. How serious is the humanitarian crisis following the massive floods in Pakistan? The flood waters have washed away 10 percent of our crops and now food security challenges us in coming months. The risk of epidemics is also growing especially in the worst hit areas. It is very painful to see people without food and shelter. The scale of disaster is so huge that people will not forget it for a long time. Is the world doing enough to respond to the disaster? The total revised appeal of Caritas Pakistan is for 171,310,259 rupees/€ 1,571,654 (this is part of a larger appeal by the whole confederation which is calling for €10 million). So far we have received hundred percent responses from our funding partners. Within [...]
Caritas is revising its appeal for Pakistan to Euros 10 million (USD 12 million) to reach 350,000 people affected by the worst flooding there in living memory. Flooding has caused damage and displacement in a fifth of the country and left 21 million people affected. Caritas will be providing shelter, food, clean water and sanitation, health care, infrastructure rebuilding, and protection for vulnerable groups like women and children. Raging floodwaters have washed away homes, bridges, schools, water systems and medical facilities across large sections of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as well as parts of Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir provinces of Pakistan. As the rains continued in August, the flooding began to reach Sindh in the southern part of Pakistan. Over 4,000,000 people have been affected in Sindh alone and over 300,000 houses demolished while 50,000 acres of agricultural land is under water. The Caritas confederation is operational in Pakistan through national [...]
Caritas is urging donors to boost support to operations in Pakistan following floods that have affected 17 million people. Caritas will appeal for funds to extend its three month emergency operation to six months. Caritas is concerned that large numbers of people have not yet been reached. “An enormous number of people need help and Caritas is boosting its operations to ensure they are taken care of. Funds have been promised for current operations but we need to ensure that this money is donated and is transformed into food, tents, water and medicine as soon as possible and before the situation deteriorates further,” says Anila Gill, national director of Caritas Pakistan. Over 1,500 people have died so far in the flooding. Many more are at risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera and stomach problems. The challenges presented by the floods are enormous. Some areas are still inaccessible. The number of people who [...]
By Shahzada Irfan Khursheed Bibi stood out amongt the recipients of relief goods with a bandage worn around her fractured arm. Being over 60 her arm would take a long time to heal. Besides, she knew the treatment would prove a heavy burden on the limited resources she had at her disposal. Khursheed recalled the fateful day when all of a sudden her life changed dramatically. “It started raining heavily. All of us stayed inside thinking we were safe but actually we were not.” Her three-room house built on mud foundation in Rehampur village, Okara, could not withstand the onslaught of heavy rainstorm and caved in. The room in which she lived with her husband suffered the most damage. The roof and walls fell to the ground with a thud entrapping the occupants. “I didn’t have enough time to leave. The bricks fell on my arm and caused the fracture. But the biggest [...]
By Shahzada Irfan For Ameen Babar the working days are long, there are no days off in sight and no plans for a holiday. As Disaster Management Programme Coordinator with Caritas Pakistan in Faisalabad, his days are filled by trips to areas devastated by rainstorms and flashfloods. With road networks destroyed or submerged under water, travelling to these places is not at all easy. “Sometimes you even have to wade through waist-deep water, not knowing where you are going to end up,” says Ameen. Pakistan is currently facing the worst floods in 80 years. Millions of people are affected. Around eight million people need help with shelter, food, water and medicines. Ameen’s job requires him to prepare communities to survive disasters, assess damage, draw up appeals for funds for the national Caritas office and assure supplies of relief goods reach the most vulnerable people. He also has to monitor the work of local aid [...]
Caritas is appealing for US$5.5 million (4.3 million euro) to help Pakistan’s flood victims as the situation grows increasingly desperate. Over 1,600 people have died in the disaster and up to 14 million people are affected. Raging floodwaters have washed away homes, bridges, schools, water systems and medical facilities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Balochistan as well as parts of Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. “The priority is to ensure people have food, water, shelter and medical help. There are so many people who are in grave difficulty. It’s such a traumatic situation for those who have lost everything and who have to rely on others even for a drink of water,” says Anila Gill, national executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan The three-month project will help 250,000 people in KPK, Punjab and Sindh. Caritas will distribute food as many people’s food stores, crops and livestock have been washed away. There will [...]
Caritas says the challenge to getting aid to flood victims in Pakistan is massive as communities are still cut off by high waters and some areas can only be reached by foot. Floods in the north have affected an estimated three million people and killed over 1500. Houses, bridges and roads have been washed away leaving people without food, shelter and drinking water. “The situation is going from bad to worse and more rains are predicted,” says says Eric Dayal, emergency officer for Pakistan. “As we try to do assessments and deliver aid we’re faced with the major challenges of high waters, which means staff are sometimes travelling by foot in the worse-hit areas, and broken phone and electricity lines which make communications very difficult.” Caritas has carried out assessments in parts of Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The focus is on moving aid items into accessible areas as quickly as possible [...]
Caritas Pakistan says hundreds of thousands of people are homeless and over 300 people have died following constant heavy monsoon rains in mainly the north of the country. Following recent assessments, Caritas will initially provide emergency relief items to 1300 families in two districts of southern Punjab, one of the worst-affected areas. “The rains have played havoc across the country. I visited three villages in Balochistan the other day and all the houses had been completely demolished by the floodwaters and the people had fled to higher land ,” says Eric Dayal, emergency officer for Pakistan. “Delivering aid will be a problem as some areas are still cut off and the airports are closed.” Families will receive shelter, food (flour, oil, ghee, sugar, tea, dal and rice) cooking utensils and hygiene items. Caritas will also provide medical treatment and vaccinations to 3000 people. Caritas Pakistan says that the initial relief effort will [...]
By Mumtaz Bashir Bhatti, Caritas Pakistan Pakistan contributes little to global warming – responsible for one 35th of the world’s average carbon dioxide emissions. Temperatures in the country’s coastal areas have risen from 0.6 to 1 degree centigrade since the early 1900s. Over the last 40 years, precipitation has decreased 10 to 15 percent in the coastal belt and in the arid plains, while there has been an increase in summer and winter rains in the north. The changing climate has had a negative impact on agricultural production and on export industries such as food, textiles and fisheries. Low-lying areas on the coast are at risk of being inundated and the homes of millions of people will be flooded. Over-grazing, over-fishing, and deforestation for fuel are common in rural areas and have further contributed to the depletion of fresh water. Climate experts in Tharparkar, Pakistan are drawing attention to the severe water [...]
More than two and a half million people were forced from their homes as a result of clashes between the Pakistan army and militants in the Swat Valley. The district used to be known as the ‘Switzerland of Pakistan’ and attracted thousands of tourists who came for skiing and mountain walking – but that was before the fighting started. Sheirin, who has lived for 70 years in the village of Malamjabar, had to run for his life with his wife and eight children. “One of my nephews was killed,”he said. Thanks to Caritas, Sheirin and his family received a package of relief items shortly after reaching a safe refuge. Caritas supported 385,000 people who had to flee their homes in Swat in 2009, providing food, healthcare, shelter, sanitation, clean water and household items.