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Inside Story
Have Pakistan's flood victims been abandoned?
Six months after floods ravaged Sindh and Balochistan, many remain displaced and desperate.
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2012 12:59

"The Pakistani authorities had underestimated the scale of the disaster that was unfolding. There was a delay in allowing international aid agencies ... [to] join the relief effort. The overall donor community response has been disappointing, with a couple of notable exceptions."

- Shaheen Chughtai, a policy advisor for Oxfam

It has been six months since floods ravaged the Pakistani provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, bringing widespread destruction to the remote region.

At least 18 million people were affected or displaced, and the UN says many returned home to find their homes destroyed. 

But a report released by the country's Peoples Accountability Commission on Floods (PACF) says basic needs have still not been met, jeopardising the lives of an estimated 4.8 million people.

Experts say the situation was made worse by a delay in early response work, and it has since been further compounded by a lack of health and education facilities.

Now winter has set in, and many are still living in makeshift shelters, bracing for more misery.

"It's not that whenever there's a disaster you look for external assistance to come and support. We as a nation have to try to become resilient and use our own domestic resources to cope with our domestic problems. That is the primary concern of the leadership in Pakistan."

- Zafar Iqbal Qadir, the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority

The majority of available water resources are unfit for consumption. There are high levels of malnutrition, particularly among young children, and fears of diseases spreading.

Pakistan has faced two consecutive years of intense flooding.

In 2010, floods killed more than 1,000 people and displaced 21 million.

Critics blame both the Pakistani government for failing to handle the situation effectively and NGOs for not delivering on the promised aid.

So, who actually failed these victims - their government or the outside world? And what will it take to end this dire humanitarian situation?

Inside Story, with presenter James Bays, discusses with guests: Shaheen Chughtai, a policy advisor for Oxfam; Naveed Ahmed, an investigative journalist; and Zafar Iqbal Qadir, the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority.

"Pakistan's so-called independent, aggressive media is not at all covering the story, which died two to three weeks after flood waters receded. The moment the limelight went away most of the government sector and some of the NGOs who were reaching people through humanitarian aid in the light of media coverage also left."

Naveed Ahmed, an investigative journalist

Source:
Al Jazeera
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