PAKISTAN (ACN News): Authorities in Pakistan have been overwhelmed by the number of people displaced by the floods.
According to reports from the country received by Aid to the Church in Need, Pakistan is experiencing problems dealing with the scale of the disaster – which has left more than 400,000 people displaced.
ACN projects head Regina Lynch described how the government had sent trains packed with internal refugees to Quetta, in the west of the country, where emergency aid is being provided.
However, a priest helping refugees in Quetta, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, reported a shortage of food and accommodation.
“Quetta is becoming a place of immigration for thousands of families affected by the floods in nearby regions,” he said.
“Quetta was fortunately free from the terrible tragedy but now is becoming part of it with thousands of miserable families brought by train by the government – but not followed up by concrete and immediate help.”
He described how he was trying to help the internal refugees by giving them the essentials they needed to survive.
“Now we are trying to approach the most in need and start distributing food enough for a full month: one sack of flour (25kg) cooking oil (10 litres): lentils, tea and sugar,” he said. “Most of the families need desperately food and medicines.”
Reports state that although most people have been housed in community buildings, such as schools and hospitals, there is not enough room for everyone, and some have had to sleep outdoors.
The government has delivered more than 64 tonnes of tent materials to the town to help those without shelter, and more is expected.
Ms Lynch said the charity was in contact with key bishops – including Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, president of Caritas Pakistan – who were overseeing the aid in flooded areas.
The Christian minority in the country has been turning to the Church for aid following the flooding, whereas Muslims have sought help from the UN.
“The bishops are still wading through the water, in order to get a complete picture of the situation,” she said.
“ACN will act immediately once they have completed their inventory and ask for the help that is needed.” In Faisalabad and Multan many families were left homeless after heavy rain destroyed their roofs.
“Even after the flood there will still be much rebuilding work to be done – entire villages were swept away by the flood in northern Pakistan,” Ms Lynch said.
ACN is committed to rebuilding work after the floods subside.
“The destroyed church buildings need to be built up quickly again, after the waters have receded so that people’s life can be got back to normal as soon as possible,” she said.
“It will be essential to support the spiritual basis for reconstruction.”
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