Returning monsoon rains force families from their homes

Publié: 18 septembre 2011 10:32 CET

By Rabia Ajaib and Reeni Amin Chua

Gori Bibi was fast asleep in her home in Badin district in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh when she suddenly awoke, soaking wet. Rising from her bed, she found her house surrounded by water, and the level was rising rapidly. She quickly woke her husband and nine children up and they escaped the floodwaters with just the clothes they had on.

More than 240 people have died and over 400,000 others have been displaced as torrential rains and flooding continue in parts of Pakistan. In response, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for 10.6 million Swiss francs (12.1 m US dollars) to help the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) provide emergency relief aid to 105,000 people in five of the worst affected districts of Sindh over the next four months. These activities will complement the emergency aid the PRCS began delivering shortly after the floods began.

As usual, the most vulnerable are worst hit. Sindh province has been worst hit by the month-long heavy monsoon rain, which caused flash flooding in virtually all of the 23 districts in the province. In totoal, over 5.7 million people have been affected by the floods.

The severity of flooding has caused damage to vital services and road networks. Many of the affected areas remain inaccessible, making it difficult to gain a full picture of the scale of the disaster. Moreover, many still recovering from last year’s flood were hit once more.

Gori Bibi’s family has been living on the road side for more than two weeks. As she sat by the road hoping that her husband would find work for the day, she contemplated how to provide food for her large family. “We have gotten by with one meal a day,” she said. “The children are hungry.”

Volunteers from the PRCS carried out assessments in the affected areas and reached to more than 14,000 families with food and other relief items, including kitchen and hygiene kits, tents and tarpaulin sheets.

Steen Frederiksen, an IFRC delegate in Pakistan, said: “There is an urgent need to provide immediate and life saving relief to the millions affected. With homes damaged, land submerged, and health care and sanitation facilities inaccessible, those affected by the floods are going to need assistance for many months to come.”

Mobile health units to provide emergency health support to affected people living in camps in Badin, Mirpurkhas and Benazirabad. Dr. Mohammad Shahzad, a member of the PRCS mobile health unit, said life here remains difficult. “The risk of disease spreading is high as thousands of men, women and children are forced to live in overcrowded and unsanitary relief camps, and there is insufficient access to clean drinking water.”