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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pakistan Floods: Ramadan Begins, But Situation is Dire

Islamic Relief USA’s Vice President of Programs, Adnan Ansari, is in Pakistan helping with the aid efforts and surveying the needs of the flood victims.

Thursday August 12, 2010

"Ramadan is full of joyous fasts, and nights of worship with family and friends. But this year, it is a different situation for millions of people affected by the worst disaster in Pakistan’s history … and it’s not over yet."

As I sit here typing, we’re experiencing a three-day lull in torrential downpours that have warped a large mass of Pakistan’s land into a body of water. This disaster-in-progress is set to continue when rain and further flooding return later this week, throwing many more people into further poverty.

Uncertainty is everywhere here: Floods that seemed to recede one day returned with vengeance the next; villages that were standing one day were under water the next; and relief organizations that came to provide emergency aid are rapidly running out of supplies.

I crossed over a bridge a few days ago and saw a massive field of crops underneath and on either side. I crossed over the same bridge the next day and all I saw was water. Throughout Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and in parts of Punjab and Sindh, flooding has washed away infrastructure that will take years to rebuild.

Driving through the villages of Charsada in the aftermath of flooding, all I saw left standing were doors that once belonged to villagers’ homes. A man was standing beside what was left of his home and I asked him what his livelihood was. He pointed towards an area that once housed a field of crops; it was now a bed of water.

Looking past the village destruction to the large quantity of water beyond, it’s hard to tell where this body of water starts and where it ends. It had taken everything these villagers had and spared only their lives – for those who survived.

I’ve travelled through flood-affected areas with Islamic Relief staff members to deliver food, hygiene kits and other emergency aid items to flood victims. I’ve been receiving requests from people all across the country who want to travel with us to affected areas to help the victims and aid in recovery efforts.

Islamic Relief is known to enter areas where other nonprofit organizations and non-governmental agencies don’t, but how can I let these volunteers enter wet terrains that have even stranded the staff and I during a village rescue mission in Nowshera District?

Our supplies are running low and today is the first day of Ramadan. There’s no firewood for people to cook food on, not even kitchen utensils to cook with. The camps are getting fuller by the day with tents packed full of flood victims. All I can think about is how we will provide what bare minimum support we have to reach the maximum number of people. The situation is dire.

Please act now to help save lives.

--Adnan Ansari, Vice President of Programs, Islamic Relief USA
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