Pakistan’s emergencies require action before problems grow
Church World Service is calling for increased assistance to 1.7 million people in Pakistan who are coping with losing homes, livelihoods, access to food and clean water following devastating floods, before a lack of assistance creates more complex challenges.
Church World Service is a global relief and development agency that includes Presbyterian Disaster Assistance as one of its ecumenical partners.
“We recognize Pakistan presents political challenges and its continuous struggle with natural disasters may force people to turn away,” says CWS P/A Director Marvin Parvez. “But there are still mothers, fathers and children struggling to survive. There are real people with incredible needs.”
CWS P/A staff in the affected region are working to support people who have lost their homes, agriculture, livestock and livlihoods. Women, children and the elderly, who always endure the worst in disasters, haven been left homeless with winter approaching fast to add to their miseries.
Noor Jan, wife of a daily wage laborer in the Chattar Bagh District Azad of Jammu-Kashmir says, “Eating and living under the open sky is the most difficult experience of my life. We have lost our house, clothing, bedding, and everything in a sudden wave of floods. There would be shortage of food sometimes when my husband would not find work for a few days, but I always felt safe living in my own house.” All that is left now of Chattar is silt and debris.
In Jammu and Kashmir, more than 60 people were reported to have died, with 105 people reported injured. A total of 5,497 houses have been affected of which 1,785 have been completely destroyed, making more than 40,000 people homeless.
CWS has operated in Pakistan since 1954. In this emergency, Parvez says there has yet to be any proper assistance or relief work planned for the distressed. “These survivors are far bigger in number compared to other emergencies in the world but the assistance provided has been nominal. Regardless of donor fatigue, or shifts in the priority of donor agencies, there are needs and the humanitarian community needs to respond.
“We need to remind ourselves of our humanitarian mandate and delink any humanitarian assistance from political gains. Thus, the need of the hour requires an immediate response to cater to the needs of survivors, as Pakistan’s catastrophes are not being addressed and funded in parity to the severity of the calamity. “
Parvez continued: “If not catered timely, deficiency of proper and sustainable assistance will add up to the problem of terrorism and militancy in this region, as many studies in Pakistan link militancy to lack of opportunity and livelihood for people.
That’s why we need donors, humanitarian groups and government agencies to help now before problems grow.”