Islamic Relief Worldwide CEO reports ‘unforgettable scenes of suffering’ in Pakistan floods
Islamic Relief Worldwide’s chief executive is visiting communities in Pakistan devastated by what the country’s government has called “a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions”. Waseem Ahmad, who is supporting with relief efforts, reports on the terrible impact of the flooding in Pakistan.
“During my decades as a humanitarian I’ve responded to many disasters, but each cuts deep, searing images of suffering forever into my mind. My mind’s catalogue of misery gained new entries today, as I witnessed scenes I can never forget.
“Travelling to Chārsadda in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, I saw thousands of people lining the motorway. Their homes flooded by the river Kabul, they have taken refuge on the only higher ground they can find.
“Vehicles swished by at high speed, frighteningly close to the children playing outside their family’s makeshift shelters. Flimsy constructions made with whatever sheets and tarpaulin desperate families have been able to find, the shelters offered scant protection from the elements.
“Many have lost everything in the deluge. They told me they desperately need shelter, food, water, and healthcare. Listening to their stories threw into sharp focus the depth and scale of the catastrophe unfolding across Pakistan.”
Millions of people suffering across Pakistan
A man sheltering with his family along the motorway near Chārsadda talks to Islamic Relief CEO Waseem Ahmad.
The enormous numbers involved in this crisis are almost too big to fully comprehend on their own.
Affecting 33 million people so far, the floods have killed at least 1,000 people. Livelihoods lie in ruins, as more than 800,000 livestock have perished, and a staggering 2 million acres of crops and orchards have been affected.
Floodwaters have damaged nearly 1 million homes, 600 schools, 145 bridges, and thousands of kilometres of roads – making relief efforts extremely challenging and cutting off many communities from outside assistance. Alhamdulillah, aid is starting to get through, but it is still painfully slow.
Islamic Relief is working around the clock to provide a lifeline
Islamic Relief is working in affected communities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh, doing all we can to get aid swiftly to families in dire need, taking a leading role in coordinating with the United Nations and national authorities.
CEO Waseem Ahmad states, “I am tremendously grateful to our dedicated colleagues who are working tirelessly to make this happen.
“Our immediate focus is on life-saving aid, so the items we have been providing include food, tents, hygiene items and kitchen utensils. Giving households cash grants has enabled them to meet their most pressing needs.
“Assisting with aid distribution in a village in Chārsadda, I met families who, just a few days ago, were living happy lives and getting on with everyday life. Now, the river Swat flows where their homes once stood.
“It is destruction on a huge scale.
“Thanks to the generosity of Islamic Relief’s incredible supporters, we have so far reached over 18,000 people. Yet, with millions of people affected by the deluge, it is just a fraction of those in need, and worse is yet to come.”
Humanitarian catastrophe threatens
“Standing by the swollen banks of the river, I fear the spectre of humanitarian catastrophe looms large. Pakistani climate scientists warn that one-third of the country could be underwater before the floods abate. That’s a disaster on a scale which the country has never seen before, and many more families pushed to the edge of survival.
“How many more people will lose their loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods? How many, in the days ahead, will go hungry and thirsty or succumb to the waterborne diseases spreading in inundated communities?
“Islamic Relief has been a lifeline for vulnerable families in Pakistan for 30 years, and I am determined that we will remain by their sides throughout this deepening crisis as well, God-willing. I call on the international community to step up their efforts too, so more families receive the help they so desperately need.”
We need your help to save thousands of lives at risk in Pakistan
Islamic Relief is focused on helping affected communities recover from the disaster as quickly as possible. Our emergency teams are on the ground right now, working in local communities to establish how best to support affected families, who urgently need food, shelter, bedding, and hygiene items.
We want to ensure that the vulnerable people of Pakistan do not continue to suffer the terrifying impact of the flash floods. Together, with your support, we provide much-needed assistance to those who have lost everything.