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Remember Allah In Every Beat Of Your Heart

Friday, December 23, 2011

PAKISTAN - THE FORGOTTEN FLOOD

It was dark and the water surrounded the village in a few hours,” he says while wiping the sweat from his forehead. “We fled outside just before the roof collapsed. All our belongings were washed away; we have nothing left.”


 With these words, Lalbagh, 29, described to Save the Children the conditions that he and his family faced after monsoon rains flooded large areas of Southern Pakistan destroying crops, homes, and livelihoods for at least 5.5 million people, and leaving 250 dead.
“Our three-month-old daughter died of dehydration and diarrhea a few days later,” he continues. “We couldn’t her get across the water to a hospital. I’ll regret this for the rest of my life.” Now his family consists of those standing next to him: his wife, Sabhal, 26, and their remaining child, Nazia. Until now, they had been living mostly off dried biscuits, tea, and bread, while drinking contaminated water straight from the lake.
Millions of people like Lalbagh and his wife have been displaced by floods in Pakistan that began in late August of this year. More than three months later, and with winter approaching, many still do not have adequate shelter or food.
Floods have destroyed or damaged 1.2 million houses and flooded 4.5 million acres of land since late August, officials and Western aid groups say. Although floods this year have been limited to Sindh, Pakistan’s southernmost Provence, they have hit many of the same areas that were severely affected by last year’s floods.
Relief for this year’s disaster has been so slow, however, that some relief agencies have said they may have to stop their operations if more funds are not received soon.
Saqib Attique, Marketing Director of the charity organization Helping Hands USA, says that although they are still actively campaigning they are “struggling hard to get the funds.”
Attique says that because last year’s floods hit such a large area of Pakistan, “everyone knew about it; but this year, not that many people know.”
In September, the UN launched an appeal for $365 million of aid and planned “to feed more than two million people by October.” As of Nov 9th, less than 1/3 of the UN’s target had been reached. And as the disaster falls out of coverage by the media, the figure is not likely to be met soon.
Just last year similar patterns of heavy rains led to floods that affected almost 20 million people, more than any disaster in recent history. Yet the US media gave the disaster relatively little coverage, and even then relief funds were relatively scarce and slow in reaching the victims.
To put that in perspective, after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the amount of aid received per victim was about $1,087.33 compared to just $16.36 received per victim after the 2010 floods in Pakistan.
Max Fisher, Associate Editor for The Atlantic explains why Americans are not donating as generously for Pakistan as they have for other disasters: “Pakistan doesn’t look like a friend to many Americans” and “Islam is not popular in America right now.”
In fact, there is so little coverage of the tragedy befalling Pakistanis that many Americans do not even know there was a separate disaster this year.
“I actually didn’t even know there were floods in Pakistan this year, too,” says Zain Nandewalla, 19, “I thought that was last year.”
Where Pakistan did not necessarily look like a friend to many Americans last year, it does so even less this year, after Osama bin Laden was found hiding out there just six months ago. Fisher explains, however, “The flood victims, many of whom are children, have nothing to do with the duplicitous practices of the ISI, and extremism in Pakistan could be curbed dramatically by a robust U.S. humanitarian response.”
To find out how you can help the people of Pakistan please go to Helping Hands USA or Save the Children, and donate today. Even a small amount can make a difference.
By Sehar Mughal, Aslan Media Contributor
 
 
 
 
 
 

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