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Follow-up vital for flood victims in Pakistan

Government carelessness turning relief camps into slums, says Caritas

Follow-up vital for flood victims in Pakistan
The Imam Bakhsh family reporter, Karachi

January 28, 2011

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Unhygienic conditions, malnutrition and government negligence are turning flood relief camps into slums, fears Caritas Pakistan. Rizal Nawab, Caritas Pakistan disaster management coordinator, reported the concerns in his situation report today after visiting five settlements of internally displaced persons in Karachi archdiocese. The Catholic Church’s social service agency was supporting some 2,300 families in the area, including 45 from minority communities, with food items, kitchen utensils, bottled water and hygiene kits in its relief phase which ended last month. “The government has stopped providing cooked food and other relief. The tents are now turning to tatters. Hepatitis cases are increasing due to low quality water being provided. Pregnant women and new born babies are becoming sick and weak,” he said, adding that seven newborn babies died last month, as well as one woman after a miscarriage. Twin daughters of Imam Bakhsh, one of the Caritas Pakistan Muslim beneficiaries, died in a week. “We had no milk and the government provided the same food daily. Babies were weak and kept in incubators. My wife is still sick,” he said. Bakhsh is one of the 88,000 people who headed to Karachi’s metropolitan area after heavy floods hit the interior Sindh province last July. The government claims 17,000 remain in the temporary camps now while 37,000 were catered for with a government cash assistance program.
Unhygienic conditions where flood victims are settled
The scheme involves ATM cards that enable flood victims to receive 100,000 rupees (US$1,165) each through online banking transactions as cash compensation. According to Nawab, only a quarter of victims received their cards, many of which were faulty. “These people cannot even return to their villages as five to seven feet of water is still standing in five districts, Nawab added. “Launching such a large cash assistance is a commendable effort. However, it is imperative to follow up the whole process so that the help reaches all the victims,” said Anila Gill, Caritas Pakistan’s national executive secretary. Related reports Clean water saves lives after Pakistan floods Caritas Pakistan warns of tough winter ahead PA13078.1638
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