Time is running out for families in Sindh

Time is running out for families in Sindh

Time is running out for families in Sindh

Flood victim

Zahid Hussain says one of his friends drowned

People in southern Pakistan face even more devastation after record floods attributed to climate change engulfed a third of the country, killing more than 1,100 people.

A wave of water is now flowing down the Indus River, threatening communities in the southern province of Sindh.

Local officials say 1.2 million people have been displaced in Sindh’s Dadu district, where hundreds of villages are submerged and even more water is on the way.

Mud flows and floodwaters are pouring down from the mountains towards the villages of this district.

The military is evacuating the stranded by plane and many others by boat. Thousands more are still on the way to the flood and need to be moved, but there is not much time.

An official who is part of the field operations tells me they have been working in the region for a month now.

“More water is coming, we are starting to see it. There is too much need, not enough of us, but we are doing our best,” he tells me before getting on a big boat.

Map showing the damage caused by monsoon rains

Map showing the damage caused by monsoon rains

It can take hours in the water, as the villages are far from each other.

In Khairpur Nathanshah, the military, aid workers and villagers are all racing to bring people to the mainland when we join them on a boat.

After some time in the water, we come across a village, where dozens of people are standing outside their flooded homes.

Dozens come aboard, but not all of them can be saved on this journey and the boats will have to return. For a man, the uncertainty that help will return is unbearable.

Villagers who have lost their homes

Villagers who have lost their homes

“I left my family in the village because I need to go for food. But I don’t know when the next boat will arrive and when I will be able to go back to them,” says Perviz Ali in a shaky voice before it breaks.

On the way back to the mainland, we meet more people and stop to help them. The group of four men waded in the water for hours: three boats ran past them to reach other villages. For one of them, it was too long a wait.

“Our friend Ghulam drowned moments before your arrival, slipped and was blown away. We couldn’t save him. He’s gone,” said one of them, Zahid Hussain.

I ask Mr Hussain what made him decide to leave.

“The water level was as high as my head at my house, I knew that if I didn’t leave now, I would drown.”

In another part of Dadu, on the side of the road, the families do not even have tents and any kind of shelter. For many, this has been happening for weeks, living outdoors with nothing.

“Our children are hungry, we don’t get any help. Why doesn’t anyone do anything? We’ve lost everything, why doesn’t anyone help?” says Rafiq, a mother of three, all under six.

Child evacuated

Child evacuated

These families tell me that obviously they are heartbroken about what happened to them, but the sadness is turning to anger because their situation is not changing. They feel helpless and frustrated with the authorities they lead overtaking them every day.

Not far from Rafiq, Shabana is cradling a month-old baby born shortly before the floods hit her village. He is hungry, but she too is her mother and cannot breastfeed little Rizaaq.

“I have no milk to give. I have been living here for two weeks – nobody even gave anything. We fight for food every day. Nobody even came to bring milk for our babies. I’m afraid for him,” the woman says.

The roads on both sides of this district are treacherous: they have been damaged by the floods, resulting in hours of traffic queuing.

Providing aid here will be a daunting task.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.