For over a week, monsoon rains have ravaged most of Pakistan, killing over 1,400 people and leaving 3 million more with no access to food, clean water, shelter, or emergency health care.
Crippled by a stubborn Taliban insurgency, and extremely limited energy resources, Pakistan is in a state of disaster, and many are beginning to question the leadership abilities President Asif Ali Zardari.
With almost no resources for dealing with this kind of emergency, Pakistani rescue workers are struggling to respond to flood victims’ needs. Many of those now displaced by the rising waters say they received no warning that raging waters were heading their way.
United Nations World Food Program spokesman Amjad Jamaal said an estimated 1.8 million are in dire need of water, food and shelter. He said some people are being bitten by water snakes (Reuters).
More rain is in the forecast for the coming days, and Pakistani authorities fear that breakout of water-borne diseases such as cholera could exacerbate an already volatile situation.
Recipe For Disaster
With the government unable or unwilling to provide aid to people that are suffering, Islamist charities, some with suspected ties to militants, have stepped in to provide aid. This only glorifies the militants in the public’s eye and adds to mounting rumors that they may have enough power to take control of the government completely.
In flood-ravaged villages many people have already given up hope that the government will be able to help them. The LA Times reports that most relief packages dropped by Pakistani government helicopters contain only a box of dried milk and a few bottles of water and Pepsi.
This is hardly enough to provide for families of six or more, trapped in areas where bridges and roads have been completely washed away.
After President Zadari plead for international assistance, the U.S. embassy has announced $10 million in immediate humanitarian aid, with more to be earmarked as necessary. The European Union will donate 30 million euros ($39.5 million) while China will donate 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) (Reuters).
Image Credit: Reuters - Michael Georgy