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Relief Agencies Continue to Respond to Silent Cries of Pakistan Flood Victims

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By Maria Mackay, Christian Today Reporter
July 29, 2007|1:41 pm

A number of Christian relief agencies and mission groups are involved in the ongoing relief efforts in Pakistan, after more than 250,000 people were left homeless by severe flooding in June.

“The city where I grew up and where I heard God’s call on my life is now a disaster zone,” said Zafar Francis, Chairman of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Pakistan. “Whole villages large and small have been washed away forever.”

In the Sindh province in southeast Pakistan, the high waters decimated crops and wiped out entire herds of water buffalo, vital to India’s dairy industry.

“The water came pouring down with a great roar, suddenly everything was gone and we were left with nothing,” according to a Sindhi villager.

“The world’s international media have missed this one,” says Rosemary James, who works with the YWAM Relief office in London, which immediately launched an appeal for funds for relief supplies. “This flood is not only a present disaster; it will have serious long-term consequences if the inundation has depleted the soil of nutrients and made it infertile.”

In the immediate aftermath, YWAM Pakistan brought together 20 indigenous Sindhi-speaking volunteers to form a rapid response team.

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The team of Muslims, Christians and Hindus got to work immediately to serve the victims of the flood and satisfy their immediate need for food. In a matter of days, more than 3,000 survivors had received family relief packs from the team containing enough food to last one month.

Many of the people who received the food packs had received no other help in the wake of the floods.

They remain desperate, however.

“There remains a lot more to be done” was the last text message to arrive at the YWAM relief office. “People are gradually finding shelter in school buildings, but they need stoves, cooking utensils and general supplies. There is hardly anyone out there helping these survivors.”

Earlier this month, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nation’s refugee agency, warned of the “serious challenges” that remained in Pakistan following June's devastating floods.

Although some improvements in conditions had been reported, UNHCR announced that it was stepping up relief efforts to help the more than two million people affected by the floods. UNHCR and its partners said they would increase relief for those areas hosting Afghan refugees in particular. Around 250 tons of emergency supplies were earmarked for Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

Also this month, Christian relief agency World Vision said that it was working out a relief intervention to those hit by Cyclone Yemyin in collaboration with other NGOs already present in the affected area prior to the disaster.

Catholic Relief Services, a member of Caritas Internationalis, meanwhile said that clean water and hygiene were of “critical concern.”

“Livestock is buried under the mud; water infrastructure is fully damaged, forcing people to get water from local rivers and streams that are polluted; and people are reporting incidences of scabies, diarrhea, gastro-intestinal illness,” said Gul Wali Khan, emergency director with CRS Pakistan.

Children are also suffering without access to their schools.

“Most of the school buildings have collapsed or are severely damaged and many children have lost their school bags, books, materials, and uniforms” said Khan. “It is important to resume a routine of normalcy as quickly as possible, in a safe environment and with support that allows children to continue their education despite the conditions.”

UNHCR has requested more than $622,000 through the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund to provide shelter items including plastic sheets, sleeping mats and blankets for 150,000 flood victims.

Relief agencies, such as YWAM, are encouraging people to help by donating to their relief efforts.

 

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