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17 Aug 2010

Thousands left unattended in Jampur and surrounding areas

By Saleem Buzdar from D G Khan

Four people drowned in flood waters when their boat capsized near Jampur, Rajanpur district. 12 people were on a private boat which capsized, due to overloading. The incident highlights the grim reality that people marooned in Jampur and the suburbs have been left with. When we visited Jampur on August 8, we witnessed that hundreds of residents of the inundated city were trying to transport their households from the city to safer places without any official relief. The streets have been turned into canals, as four-foot deep water is still flowing in the streets. Dozens of tractor- trolleys were seen parked there, fetching the leftovers from households. While people are struggling for life, thefts and robberies have become routine.

A resident of the neighbourhood, Karim Bux told us that only male residents were in the city to protect their houses from robbers who are roaming in the city without any impediments. The parts of old city situated on a big dune, which escaped the flooding, are presented a view of a haunted city. The people criticised the Punjab government for not providing relief to Jampur people. 300 people from the old city area were under the siege of flood waters but the administration did not provide them with food, water and medicines. Hundreds of flood-affected people staged a demonstration against the unavailability of relief goods outside the municipal administration office. Police baton-charged the starved people and six protesters sustained injuries. Flood victims also complained about nepotism in the distribution of relief goods as the aid is being distributed through MPs. 95% of the city had either been destroyed or inundated by the floods. Despite such a large-scale calamity, the health authorities have just two ambulances. Dr Javed, of THQ hospital, said gastronomic and skin diseases were common among the flood affected people while a large number of people living on dykes had no medical facilities. The main highways connecting Rajan Pur and D G Khan with other cities of the region have been badly damaged, cutting off these areas from the main city of Multan.

Homeless and hungry attack aid convoys in Muzafar Garh

Report by Majeed Bhatti from Muzafar Garh

Riots erupted in several flood-affected areas on Friday 13 August, when starving people attacked vehicles carrying relief goods, forcing the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPFA) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to suspend their work. Their convoy carrying relief goods was attacked and vehicles looted near Jadeywala, on the Mahmmod Kot road.

Similar attacks were reported on vehicles of other NGOs and aid agencies. The situation had turned dangerous because of widespread hunger and thirst. According to local people, police used batons to disperse an angry mob of flood-affected people and recover looted goods. People had been without food and water for four days and meals sent by the district administration were not enough. “We are not criminals and robbers but our families have been hungry for days and we have nothing to eat. We do not want to disrupt the relief supplies to other affected areas but want our share of goods for our hungry children”, said a group of angry men affected by the flash floods. “We have to stand in long queues for hours to get some food, but sometimes we even could not get this little meal after standing for hours in the scorching heat and humidity”. Five people were detained by the police for stealing goods from relief vehicles. One of them said he had been forced to do so because he had nothing to eat. He said the detained people belonged to well-off families, but floods had rendered them homeless and now they were being dubbed as thieves. Police freed them after sometime after our intervention.

Up to 2.5 million people out of a population of 3 million have been affected in Muzafar Garh district. 80% of the district has been inundated in the water.

Affected people from different parts of the district came to Muzafar Garh city for refuge, but now authorities announced the evacuation of this city of 500,000 people. Half of the population of the city has already left. Most of the shops in the city remain closed. Even though some shops are open in the city, people find it hard to buy anything because of very high and unreasonable prices. Daily wage labourers are suffering the most, as they have no work or money. “If this situation continues for few more days, we will be starved to death”, said one labourer. Another said that he had two choices: either let his family die from starvation or go out and snatch food from other people.

The towns of KhanGarh, Kot Addu, Alipur, Jatoi and Baseera have been badly affected, as hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. No relief has been provided to people in some areas.