Islamabad, Pakistan, 12 August 2010 – Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, has launched a relief effort to assist the thousands of people displaced by the recent floods in the Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral regions of northern Pakistan.
FOCUS, with its teams of trained personnel and hundreds of volunteers, supplied food items comprising flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar and tea to the hundreds of families left destitute by the heavy monsoon rains, which have ravaged different parts of Pakistan. In addition to food supplies, non-food items such as tents, tarpaulins and blankets are being supplied to displaced families in Ghizar and Chitral. In its first phase, the assistance has reached over 900 destitute households through the emergency intervention.
“It has been extremely difficult to reach these vulnerable communities,” said Khadija Shaban, Chairperson, FOCUS Pakistan. “Almost all infrastructure has been destroyed by the flood and relief activities are hindered,” she added. A blockade of the Gilgit-Ghizar road and smaller village link roads hindered relief activities in the rugged region. However, additional tents, blankets, tarpaulin and bedding items have been transported to the region after the government restored the Gilgit-Ghizar link road earlier this month.
As part of the efforts to create resilient communities, FOCUS not only trains local communities in search and rescue operations but also establishes community stockpiles by storing limited quantities of non-food items to help local communities cope with sudden, small scale, disasters locally. Regional stockpiles have also facilitated distribution of relief items.
Flooding of the Indus River and its tributaries due to torrential rains has caused widespread destruction in Azad Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (KP), and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. The United Nations has reported that to date, an estimated 14 million people have been affected by torrential rains and flooding and 6 to 7 million people are in dire need of food aid, clean water and shelter. Over 1,400 lives have been lost, more than 1,600 injured and 2 to 3 million people displaced due to the various rain-related hazards including landslides, floods, mudflows and structural collapse. More floods due to continued rains in upper parts of the country are likely to swell the number of those affected.
Over 20,000 people were displaced in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral due to complete or partial damage of residential buildings. Crop fields, orchards, trees, cattle sheds and other sources of livelihoods have also been heavily damaged or destroyed. FOCUS is in the process of transporting 200 tonnes of relief goods including food, to support 12,000 affected by the flood in these areas in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority.
FOCUS is also working in Chitral’s Booni village, where a large glacier became active due to the heavy rains, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. Following an aerial reconnaissance of the glacier to analyse the situation, FOCUS’ intervention is reaching over 200 families in collaboration with the District administration. While most of the evacuated families are now living with host families, hundreds are staying in tents provided by the government, FOCUS and other organisations.
Also in the country’s Sindh Province, where the Meteorological Department of Pakistan has issued a “red alert” predicting an “imminent extreme flood threat” to the population, FOCUS, working closely with local community organisations, has mobilised its Search and Rescue Team and Community Emergency Response Teams to respond to the emergency situation. FOCUS continues to make public announcements to raise awareness on flood threats and precautionary measures to be implemented by affected communities.
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