The floods in Pakistan spontaneously created makeshift camps to help millions of refugees. But for victims, the comfort of stepping out of danger quickly turns to despair when they realize they’ve lost everything.
It only took four hours to flood the small village of farmer Altaf Hussain near the historic city of Ranipur in the southeastern province of Sindh. Like thousands of displaced people, Hussain is currently living in a camp converted into a shelter in the capital, Karachi. The misery he experienced is etched in his memory.
“It was the middle of the night when the water hit our village. Hussain, a father of four, told Anadolu news agency, ‘I was already awake and expecting something to happen because the rains have been going on for the past 30 hours.’ And something happened. The incessant monsoon rains inundated the banks of the river. The neighboring Thari Marwah Canal Submerged the entire city of Ranipur, located about 420 kilometers from Karachi.Panicked residents were forced to get out of their homes and get themselves to safety.
It took me a few seconds to realize what was going on due to the loud screaming from the neighboring houses. I quickly woke up my children and sent them to the roof,” Hussain recalls. There was a horrific scene. “The flashlights and the bright light of our cell phones made it difficult for us to look around at first, but soon we saw a huge tidal wave approaching our village.”
At first Hussain thought he and his family could survive on the roof, but within hours he had to flee as streets and homes were flooded. The army forces managed in time to rescue the stranded villagers, including 20 members of the Hussein family.
The village’s 500 homes were severely damaged or washed away. “There was nothing left. All the houses and crops were destroyed,” Hussain says. His family spent two nights without shelter along the main road where a military boat dropped them off. A truck eventually took them to a relief camp.
Hussein and his family are among the refugees who have been transferred to one of the temporary reception camps. along highways, in schools, on military bases; Displaced Pakistanis are cared for in various places. In Nowshera, in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a technical school has been converted into a shelter for about 2,500 people. Pakistani refugees have limited access to food aid and water to wash themselves.
Classrooms are occupied by families who arrive first and take their chance to find some privacy there. Other Pakistani refugees sit side by side in the corridors, the few belongings they can take with them crammed into.
The camp is run by several local humanitarian organizations, political parties and administrative officials who are overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster. Volunteers distribute tents, mattresses, water, lentils or bread. “It’s a panic situation,” said Musharraf Rahman, a district official who helps the local government oversee food distribution in the camp. “There is a lot of food out there, but people are in a panic because they are not sure if they will get another meal,” he explains.
Older women line up at the food distribution to make sure they get their share of food. The heat becomes unbearable when a few working fans stop spinning due to a power outage. There is no shower and very few toilets available. “Our self-esteem is on the line (…) I stink, but there’s nowhere to shower,” said Fadl Malik, who shares seven members of his family in the tent. “Our women also have problems and feel insulted,” he says.
When food aid reaches the school, desperate families drive into trucks and are sometimes beaten with sticks by the police. Yasmine complains, “People are sending humanitarian aid, but the distribution is not organized at all.” “There are regular riots and people have to fight for food. In the end, some will get more and some will get nothing.
Pakistani President Shahbaz Sharif helped distribute relief items on Saturday:
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