Widespread destruction hampering Pakistan flood response

Christian aid agencies have warned that the destruction of transport and communication links is leaving many victims of the Pakistani floods virtually “cut off” from outside help.

The country has been hit by the worst monsoon flooding on record. At least 1,400 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless.

A state of emergency has been declared in one of the worst hit areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where heavy rains have swept entire villages away and killed at least 1,000 people.

Tearfund said that swollen rivers had burst their banks and deluged many areas, destroying roads, bridges, crops and livestock. Its partner, SSEWA-PAK, has begun distributing food and essential items to families affected by the flooding.

Ashraf Mall, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Pakistan, said: “It’s one of the biggest floods in the history of Pakistan. People need food immediately as they have lost their homes and possessions.

“But it is not proving easy to respond to this emergency. Bridges and roads have been destroyed and the disruption of transport and communication links is making assessments difficult, with many survivors effectively cut off from outside help.”

The global Action by Churches Together Alliance (ACT) said thousands of people made homeless by the floods in the southern province of Balochistan are still waiting to receive aid, more than a week after the region was first hit by rising waters. It complained that Balochistan was being left out as aid efforts concentrate on the badly hit northern provinces.

In a situation report issues yesterday, ACT said that although military troops had rescued more than 20,000 people, rescue workers were still struggling to save at least 27,000 people still stranded by the water.

It warned: “With water levels remaining high and communication systems severely damaged, the rescue of thousands of trapped people and the delivery of aid will lead to further loss of life.”

Church World Service Pakistan has begun distributing 1,000 food and temporary shelter kits in Balochistan, as well as providing emergency healthcare through mobile health units.

ACT is planning a three-month crisis phase response that will provide food, shelter and medicine to more than 50,000 people in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.