100 days after floods, affectees to spend winter in camps
7.2 million: precarious situtaion
By: Yasir Ilyas
ISLAMABAD, 30th October 2010 (INFN/DW): Three months after one fifth of Pakistan was flooded, millions of survivors still have no roof over their heads. Aid organizations have called for urgent international help ahead of the winter as 7.2 million still living in precarious conditions.
Large areas of Pakistan are still under water – in southern Baluchistan and the province of Sindh, the stagnating waters are sometimes over a meter high. Hundreds of thousands are living in refugee camps.
Thomas Schwarz, from the German aid organization Care, is currently in Sindh, known as Pakistan's "rice chamber," where he visited several camps.
He says some, such as one run by Care in Sukkur, are functioning perfectly well and food is distributed regularly. The hygienic conditions are good and there is clean water. Children even have access to education.
However, in remote areas, such as in Dadu, many refugees are still in desperate need of help.
"It took us 45 to 60 minutes to travel by boat across a distance of 18 or 20 kilometers. Refugees there are using bamboo or other wood to try and protect themselves. There are no roofs. They have no clean water," said Thomas Schwarz from CARE International who visited flood relief camps.
They have no soap either, which is leading to incidents of skin disease. “Children are playing in the water and don't care about it because they have fun. So eye infections come up more and more."
The UN fears that hundreds of thousands of people might have to remain in camps over the winter.
Salman Abid, the regional director of the SPO, the Strengthening and Participatory Organization, says that reconstruction in the dry regions of Pakistan has to begin as soon as possible.
"I think shelter is the basic problem," he says. "The top priority is that people who have lost their homes in the floods or whose houses were damaged should be able to leave the camps. Their homes should be rebuilt so that they can move in before winter comes. Providing them with homes is the top priority.”
Thomas Schwarz has called for more help from the international community to keep flood victims as healthy as possible over the winter. Care and other NGOs have been trying to convince private donors that their money will reach those who need it.
The United Nations estimates that 21 million people were affected by the floods in July, and that about 7.2 million are still affected in one way or another. It had originally asked member states to donate two billion dollars but had only received a third of the amount by the end of September.