Darel disaster: Three weeks on, flashflood victims forgotten

Aid worker says families have no food or shelter after their lives were swept away on July 5.



GILGIT:


According to an aid worker who just returned from the flood-hit Darel Valley, the survivors are living their worst nightmare, a life without food or shelter.


“There are more than 60 families who have nothing to eat at the moment as their houses were wiped out by the flood,” said Tahir Rana on Thursday, a day after he visited the valley’s four villages: Gayal, Makyal, Bishal and Singaal. Darel is about 160 kilometres from Gilgit.

Tahir Rana is a programme manager at Al-Khidmat Foundation in Gilgit-Baltistan. His team distributed a month’s supply of food amongst 100 families. Al-Khidmat is the charity wing of the religio-political Jamaat-e- Islami party.

On July 5, a flashflood triggered by heavy rains swept away 73 houses and damaged another 102 houses in five villages of Darel, leaving dozens of families homeless. According to statistics compiled by the Diamer district administration, 400 houses were partially or completely affected by the flashflood.

The calamity coincided with a terrorist attack on a police station in the valley. Armed, masked men in security force uniforms tied up policemen inside the station. The assailants took away five Kalashnikovs, three G-3 rifles, five semi-automatic rifles, three pistols, 2,000 bullets, and police uniforms. This led to a police operation in the valley which temporarily brought relief work to a halt.

“We did distribute some food packages but it isn’t enough to cater to their needs beyond a month,” Rana told The Express Tribune. The law and order situation there is now stable, said Rana, but people’s anger and frustration has mounted in the face of the government’s indifference. People complained they have not received any aid or relief from any agency, including the government, said Rana.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2014.

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