As Pakistani citizens and government officials attempt to cope with the worst flooding in the country's history, many survivors of the disaster are encountering shortages of food and shelter after fleeing their homes. On Friday, the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) described the chronic difficulties in the aftermath of floods which have displaced over 400,000 people and submerged a fifth of the country.
ACN's head of projects, Regina Lynch, explained that while the government is sending internal refugees by train to the western city of Quetta, a priest in the city has reported that the supplies and accommodations there are not sufficient for the number of flood victims.
“Thousands of miserable families,” the priest said, are being “brought by train by the government-- but not followed up by concrete and immediate help.” The church in Quetta is attempting to make up for the shortfall itself, by distributing a month's worth of basic food supplies: “One sack of flour, cooking oil, lentils, tea, and sugar.”
“Most of the families,” the Quetta priest said, “desperately need food and medicines.” Flooding in many areas of Pakistan has resulted in widespread disease outbreaks, under chaotic conditions with poor sanitation. ACN also reported on Friday that many of the flood refugees are sleeping in tents or outdoors due to a shortage of room in community buildings such as schools and hospitals.
According to ACN, Pakistan's Christian minority is more directly dependent upon the local and international church for their relief, compared with other groups who are turning to the U.N. Lynch said the bishops are “still wading through the water, in order to get a complete picture of the situation.”
“After the flood,” she noted, “there will still be much rebuilding work to be done-- entire villages were swept away by the flood in northern Pakistan.” Her agency stated that it is committed to the long-term work of rebuilding home and churches there.
Earlier this week, bishops of the Catholic Church in Pakistan appealed to their country's Catholics, along with all Pakistanis and the international community, for increased prayer and charitable aid to those affected by the unprecedented floods.
“In this critical moment of national tragedy,” the bishops of Pakistan said in the joint statement, “it is our Christian duty to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim and Hindu brethren and face the common calamity with courage and determination.” The bishops underscored their intention “to mobilize our limited resources in doing what we can to alleviate the sufferings of the many displaced persons.”