Balochistan’s top health official has said that they need more food items, not medicines, for hundreds of thousands of people affected by recent flash floods in the province.
“Around 150, 000 people have been affected or rendered homeless in Sibi, Kohlu, Kachhi, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Barkhan and Lehri areas,” Amanullah Kakar told journalists. Interestingly, the local administration has put the number of flood-affected people at a quarter million, much more than the stats given by Kakar. This points to lack of coordination among government agencies.
“We have provided medicine worth of Rs1.2 million to people in the affected districts where six medical camps have been established,” Kakar said. A large number of people have been treated for snakebites in Sibi. However, Kakar did not say anything about the number of people suffering from water-borne diseases in these areas.
Two children had reportedly died of water-borne diseases in the early days of flood. However, Karkar denied the reports. “Earlier this week, there was speculation about the outbreak of diseases, particularly epidemics, in these areas. And all EDOs have been asked to handle the situation and report on a daily basis,” he added.
“We have adequate stocks of medicines but there is dire need for food items and clean drinking water for the affected people because a large number of people are living in tents,” Kakar said. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had provided 1,160 packs of medicines which can be sufficient for three months. He said the government has appealed to international organisations for help. “An emergency cell has been set up in the DG office at Quetta to register complaints,” he added.
He feared that flash floods from Punjab through Sindh might also hit the bordering towns of Balochistan.
Sardar Sarfraz Domki, a tribal elder, said that Sibi, Kachhi, Kohlu, Barhkan and Naseerabad are the worst affected districts where a large number of people are still marooned. “The areas of Baktiarabad, Talli, Sultankot and Lehri have been destroyed and thousands of people have been rendered homeless,” he added.
He said knee-deep water is stagnating in these areas, posing threat of outbreak of epidemics in the region. He complained that food items provided by the government were sub-standard and insufficient. “Affected people are begging for relief but no one is paying heed to their plight,” said Domki. He also criticised the media for no covering the devastation.
Bijar Baloch, the media coordinator of the Red Crescent Society in Balochistan, said that they have distributed food items among the 3,000 people in Talli which will sufficient for one month. “There is need for more food items and other relief goods in the flood-hit districts because people are still marooned in Lehri and Talli tehsils,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2010.
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