03 Oct 2010

EXCLUSIVE: VOC News senior journalist and Drivetime presenter Shafiq Morton is in Pakistan, travelling along with the Al Imdaad Foundation, on its latest aid mission to the flood-ravaged region. This is his account of his fifth day on the road, delivering aid.

For 62 year old Faizal Allie standing in the rubble of his home, it's an act of God. For the Pakistani government it's a crippling crisis. For the child in the aid tent with a fever, it's about life and death. Where we are in the Punjab at Muzaffer Gharr, 700 villages have been destroyed. The mother wets her sick infant with a wet cloth. But in the 35 degree heat it makes little difference. There is nothing we can do. The nearest doctor is kilometres away. The flood waters of August are slowly receding into the baked earth and in the broken villages I visit, there is the stench of human faeces. Flies attack my face and the stagnant water is starting to smell. Without committment or intervention the sick are going to die here. With 20 million displaced and nearly 4 million totally destitute, Pakistan's flood disaster is an insidious one. This was the rising of the waters to Biblical proportions. The amount of territory flooded in the Indus Valley is equal to the surface area of Italy. Fuelled by early spring snow and glacial melts in the Hindu Kush, the rivers were further strained by record monsoon rainfall. The water had nowhere to go except sideways over the levees and into the Indus flatlands. That is why we could find watermarks 2 metres high 40 kilometres from the banks of the Chenab River. As Faizal Allie says; it's an act of God. But, he adds, he has to face reality. His family is sick and hungry. How does he cope with that? Indeed, if real help doesn't come soon, the headlines in Pakistan are going to make grim reading.
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