03 Oct 2010

After three days of visiting villages in the flood-ravaged Punjab province in Pakistan, VOC News senior journalist and Drivetime presenter Shafiq Morton reported on Wednesday that damage is widespread, unlike he or relief agency, the Al Imdaad Foundation (AIF) has ever seen before. “We have seen flood damage about 40 to 50 kilometres away from the Indus Valley. People often forget that Pakistan is a huge country, home to almost 180 million people.

"There are marks on trees and buildings which show that the flood waters reached about two metres in height. Water levels rose stealthily and quietly. Many of the families only realised in the middle of the night that they and their belongings were underwater and most of the houses in the area are mud houses and therefore collapsed,” he said. Morton, who is travelling with an AIF mission, said the delegation has covered some 900 kilometres and has not seen any other Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) operating in the area. When visitng a village in Muzaffarabad, he said villagers complained about poor disaster management by the Pakistani government. "Some people have not yet received aid, two months after the first floods hit their area. The outside world does not understand Pakistan...It is a third world developing and does not have the capacity to assist all these people." Although the Pakistani government has called on financial assistance and more disaster relief, Morton cautioned people to be vigilant and only donate funds to accredited NGO’s such as AIF and Gift of the Givers, as they will ensure that the funds are delivered to Pakistan. "It seems as though the aid being delivered may be taken by corrupt government officials and resold. It is the responsibility of everyone to report on the truth about what is happening in Pakistan. It is a humanitarian disaster. The people urgently need seeds to plant food for next year and money to rebuild their homes." “The Pakistani government is calling on aid and the country needs it, full stop! It is a national disaster and is very difficult to manage. And the people fear that if they do not receive medical assistance and other forms of aid soon, they will face the problem of being dying,” Morton urged.
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