The southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan is struggling to cope with an influx of flood displaced people from neighbouring Sindh Province, despite a growing number of camps.
“Figures with new assessments are coming in but at the moment in Balochistan half a million people are affected,” Arianne Rummery, a spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), told IRIN. “The numbers have grown following the influx of people from Sindh and added to the strain on resources.”
Many of the newly displaced in Balochistan are from the Jacobabad and Shahdadkot districts of Sindh Province. Shahdadkot city, with a population of 500,000, was evacuated on 21 June, and most people simply crossed into Balochistan.
“We walked on and on for miles, occasionally getting a lift in some passing truck. We have literally been without food for two days. We have even tried to eat leaves and we may have died had some villagers not given us a little goat milk,” Shamoon Bibi, 50, from a village near Jacobabad, told IRIN.
UNHCR says Balochistan has established and is managing five camps - in Quetta, Sibi, Dera Hurad Jamali, Dhader and Noutal.
Twelve of Balochistan’s 30 districts have been declared “flood hit” by the provincial government, and warnings have been issued about disease, following the first heavy monsoon rains in late July.
|Monsoon Flood Affected Districts in Pakistan - 23 August 2010 (Sources: OCHA, MapAction) (See larger version of map)|
UNHCR and aid agencies working in Balochistan say it is a struggle to find resources to offer people the help they need.
“At the moment everything is a priority - shelter, food, water. We don’t have enough resources to get these to people,” said the UNHCR’s Rummery.
In the town of Dera Allahyar, in Naseerabad District, “there are tens of thousands of people, including many who left Sindh with nothing at all. We are trying to offer what help we can,” said Jamal Mazari, 22, a student from Quetta working as a volunteer with the authorities to help flood victims in Balochistan.
Commissioner for Naseerabad Sher Khan Bazai told the media: “We have an acute scarcity of tents and people are living out in the open.” Many are camped along highways leading from Sindh to Balochistan.
“It is incredibly hot and we have no water; there is hardly any food and nothing is distributed for days,” said Ghulam Qadir, 40, who had fled from Ghotki in Sindh. He told IRIN on a borrowed mobile phone: “My youngest child, who is seven, is sick with fever and diarrhoea. I don’t know what to do.”
According to a 21 August health cluster bulletin issued by the World Health Organization, from 29 July to 18 August, Balochistan health facilities have reported conducting 26,006 patient visits, with diarrhoea accounting for 23 percent of cases, suspected malaria 21 percent and scabies 16 percent.
Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani told the media: “There is large-scale destruction from the floods in Balochistan and infrastructure has been damaged.”
According to a 20 August report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), floodwaters from the Indus are reaching Balochistan Province, where the number of people in need of assistance continues to grow.