I knew things were bad in Pakistan, but I was shocked to read that a full 20 percent of the country is under water! That’s right—one-fifth of the entire country has been flooded leaving a staggering 20 million people homeless. For comparison sake’s, imagine Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arkansas completely submerged.
More heavy rain fell yesterday, adding to the worst flooding in eighty years and confronting Pakistan with a complex array of urgent humanitarian challenges. Providing clean water for millions of people and avoiding the spread of contagious diseases are the first priorities. But there are also looming food shortages across the country.
This video, produced by International News 24/7 three weeks since the catastrophe began, makes clear how urgently flood victims are in need of aid and also what a void is being created into which fundamentalists are ably stepping.
The United Nations has appealed for $460 million in international donations, but only about a third of that has been provided so far. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday that he had never seen anything as horrific as the flood disaster and relief officials were clearly concerned that donations from abroad would fall short of what was needed, especially when compared with those for relief of other recent disasters, like the earthquake in Haiti.
“An earthquake is a much more dramatic, emotional, telegenic event because it happens so quickly,” John Holmes, the humanitarian aid coordinator at the United Nations told the New York Times. In Pakistan’s case, he said, “What is clear is that we need a lot more help, and we need it quickly.”
There are numerous ways to heed this call and assist groups already on the ground. One of the best, The Global Fund for Women, operating in the country since 1989, has awarded 102 grants to women’s groups working to increase literacy for women and girls, improve life in refugee camps, expand access to healthcare and end gender-based violence. Now, the organization is deeply involved in relief efforts. Your contributions will help provide support for women in Pakistan to address this emergency, to rebuild their communities and to protect their rights long after this disaster has past.