By Asma Jahangir (Chairperson)
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is seriously concerned at the plight of the landslide victims in Upper Hunza and calls upon the federal government to expedite its relief efforts.
Hit by landslide on January 4 last, the Gojal Tehsil in Upper Hunza was cut off from Lower Hunza and the rest of the country owing to the obstruction of Karakorum Highway and Hunza River after massive landslide at Atabad. The river turned into a lake with and its water level has been rising ever since. At present, more than 75 households in Gojal are affected. The local people have already cut more than 8000 trees to save them from rotting in the flood water. For the last one month, the local people in Upper Hunza have been facing difficulties in meeting their basic needs as expensive imports from China through Khunjrab are the only source of supplies available.
Although the National Disaster Management Authority has started work to open the road and clear the blockage of the river, the pace of work is too slow. HRCP is of the view that the government needs to expedite the relief work and opening up of the blocked road and river. If the government lacks the technical and human resources in providing a speedy relief, it should seek support from international experts such as Chinese government which is already carrying out construction work in the area. Meanwhile, while the Upper Hunza road links are cut off, HRCP urges the government to make arrangements to provide food items and medicines to the affected people. They should not be left at the mercy of profiteers and hoarders.