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Aug-26-2010 01:17printcommentsVideo

Pakistan: Relief Delivery Picks Up as New Areas Submerged

The latest official figures suggest that the level of destruction in Sindh could be similar to that reported in Punjab, where an estimated 500,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Flooding in Pakistan

(ISLAMABAD / PORTLAND) - Aid agencies, including the International Office of Migration (IOM), are racing to get more emergency shelter to displaced flood victims as more villages and towns become submerged under floodwaters in the south of the country. Figures released by Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) put the number of homes damaged or destroyed in Sindh province to 462,000 from 176,000 last week.

"The level of destruction and displacement caused by floods is unprecedented. Emergency Shelter Cluster agencies have already delivered aid to more than a million people and our procurement pipeline has tripled over the last week to provide shelter and household relief items for another 2.4 million. But we will need more," says IOM Pakistan Emergency Response Manager Brian Kelly.

IOM coordinates the cluster of 40 UN and other relief agencies working with the NDMA and international donors to deliver emergency shelter and non-food relief. Over 109,500 tents and 72,000 plastic sheets have been distributed to provide shelter for some 145,500 families. A delivery of another 111,000 tents and over 465,000 plastic sheets to provide shelter for another 344,000 families is expected.

The United Nations and NDMA with the support of IOM is urging Pakistanis nationwide to donate life-saving aid items for flood victims. The group is requesting essentials including buckets, steel cups and plates, saucepans, cooking pots, mosquito nets, sanitary napkins, soap, shampoo, towels, lota (mugs), hairbrushes and combs, wooden poles, ropes, tarpaulins, (4 x 6 meter), jerry cans, blankets and clothing.

From YouTube user SBARTSTV

"Millions of people displaced by the floods are desperately in need of basic essentials for life. Many of them have nothing but the clothes on their backs and they need our immediate help until they are able to return home," says Hassan Abdel Moneim Mostafa, IOM Regional Representative for West and Central Asia.

IOM has also partnered with a cell phone operator Zong to provide free phone service in an effort to get vital information, seek help and access relief services offered by the government and aid agencies. The phone company has donated 100 cell phones for use in relief centers run by the Al-Khidmat Foundation and other community-based organizations in the worst flood-affected areas of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Each phone has a pre-paid SIM card with 800 free minutes a day for at least two months, the phones can also be used to call the toll free helpline number +92-(0)322-55-55-737 at IOM's Humanitarian Call Centre in Peshawar.

"The floods have caused massive displacement and destruction of infrastructure, including telecommunications. This free phone service will allow people sheltering in these camps to communicate with the outside world and access information that is critical to their wellbeing", says IOM Pakistan Emergency Response Manager Brian Kelly.

This week IOM plans to disperse 2,000 radio sets, a donation from the Internews Agency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa . "It is very important that these messages reach the most vulnerable - women and child-headed households, the elderly and the disabled. These people are often not mobile and cannot read and write. So radio is clearly the best way to reach them," says IOM Mass Communications Project Officer Maria Ahmad.

New estimates put the total number of households damaged or destroyed at 1.17 million across the country. This would mean that some 8 million people are either homeless or displaced. The new figures follow a massive new evacuation of people from Shahdad Kot and Thatta districts of Sindh province, as floodwaters move south, submerging towns and villages in their path.

Tens of thousands of families who were evacuated from flood-affected districts of Sindh, including Jacobabad, Kashmore, Shikarpur, Khairpur, Ghotki and Larkana, are now living on roads, under bridges and on higher ground in Sukkur city, which has not been affected by the floods. Others have escaped to Karachi, Hyderabad and Balochistan province.

"The latest official figures suggest that the level of destruction in Sindh could be similar to that reported in Punjab, where an estimated 500,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. But this disaster is still far from over and the number of families affected could still increase significantly," says Emergency Shelter Cluster Information Manager Wan Sophonpanich.

*Sources: International Office of Migration

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Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: alyshann78@comcast.net




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