Fishermen dip into relief efforts


Express August 03, 2010

KARACHI: Fishermen have pitched in for the rescue efforts with a big splash, donating 16 fishing boats to the Sindh government and helping to set up relief camps near Sukkur and Guddu barrages.

According to a spokesman for the nongovernmental organisation Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Sami Memon, the organisation has asked fishermen living along the River Indus to stay on their toes and offer their services if the need arises.

Memon said that they have formed teams of fishermen who are quite capable of taking part in rescue operations. “These teams are to help the government,” he added.

The boats were given to the government ahead of the impending flood threat and also to help rescue those people who are stranded in the katcha areas near the River Indus, where water has already entered.

Many fishermen have kept their boats on standby in vulnerable areas, where they might be needed in an emergency. Besides rescue services, the organisation has also started an assessment of the losses incurred by affected people and are busy collecting data.

Memon said that they are trying to coordinate with the district governments and relief agencies to better assist people in flood-affected areas of the province.

According to a fisherman, Mohammad Ishaq, in Kashmore district, the flood is expected to affect a widespread area since several embankments have been declared weak. “There are no visible arrangements for stone pitching to strengthen these embankments,” he pointed out.

Ishaq felt that the situation in upper areas, including Kashmore, Shikarpur, Sukkur and Ghotki, of the province was quite different from the lower areas such as Jamshoro, Nawabshah, Matiari, Hyderabad and Thatta. While the district administration had reached many of the areas in upper Sindh, people there still do not want to evacuate. “The forest communities there have their natural grazing fields and are enjoying their lives,” he said, adding that their counterparts in the lower regions are looking quite helpless because most of them have not been approached by the government and they have nowhere to go.

According to a PFF statement, the situation at Guddu and Sukkur barrages is the worst, and will affect Kashmore, Ghotki, Sukkur and Shikarpur districts.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2010.

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