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Asia

Millions of Pakistanis still in desperate need

Anti-flood workers tried to strengthen river embankments in the southern city of Shadadkot in Sindh province on Monday. Most of the 350,000 inhabitants have already been evacuated but the floods threaten to wreak havoc.

Some 90,000 babies are expected to be born in the coming weeks to flood victims

Some 90,000 babies are expected to be born in the coming weeks to flood victims

As more towns are under imminent threat of flooding and the authorities battle with heavy monsoon rains, there are millions of people in emergency camps who are in desperate need of relief.

The German Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Markus Loening recently visited the flooded areas of Pakistan and got a first-hand insight into the goings on at two camps.

"It's worst for the children," he told Deutsche Welle. "There are very many women with young children. The estimates are that 90,000 babies are going to be born in the coming weeks and that a third of them are at acute risk of not surviving the first days. These women are in very rudimentary tents. They can see down onto their flooded villages. It's all very shocking."

350,000 people have been evacuated from Shadadkot in Sindh

350,000 people have been evacuated from Shadadkot in Sindh

Millions are in need of basic supplies

Concern that there could be an outbreak of disease, including typhoid, hepatitis and cholera continues to grow. Loening said that medical aid was crucial but that many people still needed just the basics.

"Some six million people need emergency help, they need food to survive. The children get biscuits. Poland has donated biscuits. We could also donate them. Children can survive on them because they are high-energy biscuits. They are being distributed there. Baby food is also being distributed. If they get that, they can survive one, two or three days. Food and clean water are what’s most important at the moment," Loening said.

There is not enough food for everyone at the relief camps

There is not enough food for everyone at the relief camps

He added that the cost of such products is low but that the sheer numbers of people needing supplies is making deliveries logistically difficult.

The World Food Program has reached over a million people. It has called for more helicopters to get food to people who remain isolated by the high flood waters.

Loening dispelled doubts that donations were not going to the right places. He said that all the donations to German organizations were going "one-to-one" to the people who needed it.

Donor fatigue in Pakistan and abroad

If the West has been criticized for its sluggish response to the floods and a form of donor fatigue, the Pakistani population's distrust of the weak civilian government has reportedly also had a negative impact on donations from Pakistanis themselves.

"This trust deficit has created a situation where the people are not coming forward," said Tayyab Siddique, a Pakistani political expert.

The army on the other hand has received much praise for its relief operations, although political expert Ayesha Siddika explained there was some marketing going on: "It' not the way they're doing work. It's how their work is being presented."

The tents in the emergency camps are very rudimentary

The tents in the emergency camps are very rudimentary

Observers do not predict, however, that the political situation will change much as a result of this image-boosting, as it is widely thought that the military already holds the power behind the scenes.

Nor do they think the Taliban will benefit unduly as their emergency relief operations are reportedly as chaotic as those of the authorities.

Positive for Pakistani-West relations

However, Ayesha Siddika believes that the way the floods are handled by the West could have a positive impact: "The more the West helps, it will be, I mean one of the spin offs will be of course improvement of relations, doing away with misunderstandings."

Donations from the international community have neared 500 million dollars already but the UN has warned that Pakistan will be needing help for years.

The International Monetary Fund is currently looking at ways of restructuring a $10 billion loan for Pakistan.

Author: Anne Thomas
Editor: Disha Uppal

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