On 2nd September 2014, the Jammu and Kashmir region was struck by heavy floods caused by severe monsoon rainfalls. In Pakistan alone, the provinces of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit-Baltistan and Punjab were badly affected where the death toll has passed 250 and the number of people impacted has reached to more than half a million.
This year’s monsoon rains triggered the collapse of dykes causing rivers to overflow; this overspill resulted in mass flooding and landslides across Pakistan’s affected areas. Flood waters made their way into thousands of villages where among those badly hit were situated in the Districts of Sahiwal, Norowal, Pind Dadan Khan of Jhelum, Chiniot, Jhang, and Sargod. Roadways have been closed, schools and hospitals have been destroyed, families displaced, crops destroyed and cattle washed away.
As the floodwaters continue to move southwards, what is left behind is a shattered infrastructure where fragmented roadways are submerged in water, making it difficult for aid agencies to reach the disaster victims. The PakistanI Army is carrying out relief and rescue operations with the help of motor-powered boats and helicopters. Relief camps have been set up on higher grounds which are working hard to distribute food and medicine. Some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have also joined the Army to provide food in these camps.
Authorities are closely monitoring the flow of the water to avert would-be disasters as much as possible. Protective banks such as the Athara Hazari and Muhammadwala Dykes were blown up to prevent the breach of key barrages and the threat of more floods. A number of villages and cities have been evacuated while others are put on high alert.
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The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan is gathering more data on the disaster to help Government and NGOs deliver the needed aid. Simultaneously, The World Federation in collaboration with its regional partners in Pakistan are also hard at work to assess the ongoing needs of the distraught families with the goal of mobilizing and delivering humanitarian relief and aid in the affected areas. Obstructed roadways make this task that much more difficult.
Given our experience with the floods of 2010 and 2011 in Pakistan, we know that in the medium and long term, new homes will have to be rebuilt to house displaced families.
However, at present, at least one-month’s food rations and medicines are urgently required.
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