Crisis worsens in flood-hit Pakistan

Aid groups warn victims at growing risk of potentially fatal diseases, as government is criticised for slow response.

    Floods have left hundreds of thousands homeless in Pakistan and the situation is getting worse by the day, aid agencies say.

    While the government has been criticised for its slow response to the crisis, the military said it rescued thousands of people in Sindh province on Wednesday. 

    "In the Badin district, we have rescued more than 3,000 people from the Shadi Laj area, and more than 10,000 people from the Pingrio region," Major Waheed Bukhari, from the army rescue operation in Badin, said.

    Soldiers used inflatable boats to rescue residents stranded in remote villages.

    According to a military statement, apart from the rescue and relief operations in Badin and Mirpur Khas regions, 60 tonnes of rations were dropped by helicopters in 30 trapped villages in Sanghar district on Wednesday.

    Floods have killed at least 230 people, destroyed or damaged 1.2 million houses and flooded 4.5 million acres since late last month, officials and aid groups say. Entire villages have been destroyed, with only the roofs of houses or the tops of trees visible in several areas.

    "We have lost everything," a woman in Jamal Shah in rural Sindh province told Al Jazeera. "Our houses, our valuables. All our fields are under water and the government hasn't given us anything. No one has come here to help us".

    "I am taking my people to Thar. Our houses and crops have been totally destroyed," said Laro, a 45-year-old farmer. "I am taking my children to Thar because that is a raised area and my family will be safer there."

    Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Naushero Feroze on Thursday, said that the situation in Sindh remained dire, and that most of the affected people had not received any government aid.

    Hyderabad protest

    Frustrations with the government are running high. Eighty men blocked the main road to Hyderabad, the biggest city near the flooded areas, on Wednesday, demanding help from the authorities.

    Murad Khan, a former spokesman for the Pakistani army, told Al Jazeera that the government has "miserably failed" to take care of the effects of the recent floods.

    However, he said he did not blame the government for the slow response.

    "It is a shaky government, very weak," he said. "It's struggling to fight a war with the Taliban and other militants, and the economy is very bad. It is not in a position to deal with the crisis".

    Growing disease risk

    At a government relief camp in Badin district, about 600 people are being given shelter, but there are limited facilities and no dry ground available.

    "Our houses and farms are submerged under water," Darya Khan, a man taking shelter at the camp along with his eight children, told Al Jazeera.

    "The government shifted us to this school which is also full of water. Many of us got infected with diarrhoea and skin diseases".

    Aid groups have said that victims of Pakistan's flood are at growing risk of potentially fatal diseases. Eight people have already died of dengue fever in the flood-hit areas.

    Hafeez Memon, the director-general of the Sindh health department, said there were 2,000 confirmed cases of malaria and that the number was likely to rise.

    International aid agency Oxfam has put the number of people affected by the floods at 5.3 million.

    "There is an urgent need to provide immediate and life saving relief to the millions affected. It hasn’t stopped raining in Sindh for the last 10 days. Large swathes of land are underwater and people are desperately awaiting relief," said Neva Khan, the agency's Pakistan country director, after visiting some of the worst affected areas in lower Sindh.

    The agency has called for the international community to "expedite its response to ensure that millions affected get the help they need as soon as possible".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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