More displacement: Relief work in Darel Valley hindered by counteraction

Last week, flash flood swept away 73 houses and damaged over 100.

Shabbir Mir July 09, 2014


Villages hit by a flash food in Darel Valley on July 4 continue to suffer in the absence of relief as operations against militants take priority in the area, making it hard for aid workers to reach those affected.

Floods triggered by heavy rains swept away 73 houses, and damaged another 102, leaving dozens of families homeless.

Calamity hit the area soon after its police station was ransacked by militants, who tied up officials on duty and robbed them of uniforms and weapons. An operation spearheaded by the police and supported by the Gilgit-Baltistan Scouts followed and has acted as a roadblock for aid work in Darel, located more than 150 kilometres from Gilgit.

“Those affected couldn’t be reached because of an ongoing operation,” said Tahir Rana, an employee of Al-Khidmat Foundation, on Wednesday.

The non-government organisation, associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami, assessed the damage soon after the disaster and but was unable to go ahead with aid work. Al-Khidmat now plans to set up camps in Gilgit, starting Friday.

“We have submitted the assessment report to our main office. Very soon we will be able to deliver some assistance to affected families,” said Rana.

Mushtaq, a resident of Darel Valley, said displaced families were dependant on their relatives for food and shelter. The flood had swept away most of their belongings, including cattle and other livestock.

“The situation is grave and people are looking for assistance from the outside world, but it is difficult for it to reach at the moment,” said Mushtaq, referring to the operation.

On Tuesday, police conducted a door-to-door search operation in Darel and arrested several suspects. The same day, in Chilas, military choppers pounded hideouts of suspected militants in Muspar Forests and arrested suspects.

An official at the Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister’s Secretariat claimed the chief minister has taken notice of the plight of the villagers hit by the flood. “He has asked the chief secretary to ensure aid reaches as a priority,” said Sajjadul Haq.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2014.


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