• Camps set up across city for collection of donations and relief goods
• Accessibility to devastated areas becomes difficult due to broken, inundated roads

KARACHI: As heavy rains have triggered floods and wreaked havoc across the country, charity organisations and welfare bodies also pumped up their relief activities for hundreds of thousands of flood victims arriving at Karachi to seek shelter, but what emerges as the main challenge for the welfare bodies is to execute and take this huge gigantic operation to the disaster-hit areas after torrential rains have washed away key roads and highway links.

Hundreds of volunteers from Karachi associated with different organisations have already left for flood-hit areas in Sindh and Balochistan but the people engaged in supervising these activities now find it difficult to transport the truckloads of relief goods to the affected towns and villages due to ruined infrastructure.

They agree that the current level of crisis is much severe than the one which was witnessed in 2010.

Sarfaraz Sheikh, who’s heading the disaster management cell of the Al-Khidmat, said his organisation was generating funds from across the country, but they were operating from Karachi for dispatching relief goods, recruiting volunteers and arranging resources for flood-hit districts of Sindh and Balochistan.

“But the bigger challenge right now is that right from Hyderabad onwards, the whole province is inundated with flood water, whether it’s road, highway or any other alternative route,” he said.

“So arranging resources is one challenge, but delivering them at the right place is another challenge. In order to meet this challenge we have redesigned our strategy. We have set up a massive kitchen in Sakrand and a second one is being opened in Sukkur tomorrow [Saturday] that will provide cooked food twice a day in all three major affected areas — Sukkur, Shikarpur and Jacobabad. We are coordinating with the local administrations and all other welfare organisations for better and effective operation.”

He said Al-Khidmat had planned its operation in four areas — shelters, rations, medical camps and cooked and ready-to-eat food.

Under this strategy, he said, the organisation had set up base camps in Sukkur and Sakrand for relief operation in Sindh.

In Balochistan, he said, the team was engaged for last three weeks and camps were set up in Bela and Quetta.

Zafar Abbass of the Jafria Disaster Cell (JDC), which has set up donation camps across the city, believes media moved a little late to highlight the tragedy that had been claiming lives and property for a month.

But still, he appealed to Karachiites for donations and precisely mentioned a few things which were crucial in relief work.

“We have been providing food, tents and rations and using dozens of boats to evacuate people marooned in flooded areas,” he said.

“We have camps at Do Talwar, Numaish, Incholi and Five Star Chowrangi where people are offering donations. Both in Sindh and Balochistan, I have personally seen hundreds of villages turned flat, where homes, crops and every single structure have been wiped out. This tragedy is huge and we expect the same level of response from the people of Karachi.”

He requested for more government efforts and assistance to all those charity and welfare organisations carrying out relief operations in Sindh and Balochistan.

Hundred of trucks carrying relief goods are stuck in traffic jams due to ruined infrastructure and this issue must be resolved immediately for timely distribution of relief items to the affected people.

Fears of epidemic

Edhi Foundation, fears spread of epidemic diseases among children and women.

A field hospital, the charity says, is being established in Jacobabad which will cater to thousands of patients.

“Evacuation operation of our teams in Sindh is almost done and now it’s time to provide them shelters,” said an official of the charity.

“We are running out of time and it’s very crucial to carry out this operation with all due care and planning. The children, women and elderly people are vulnerable to different viral and infectious diseases due to flooding. After arranging food and shelter, our volunteers are now working with medical teams to address healthcare issue.”

Saylani Welfare has also set up a ‘logistic centre’ in Hyderabad, which is catering to the affected people in neighbouring areas and another one has been set up in Sukkur which is looking after the people in Khairpur, Kot Diji and Pano Aqil.

“At least 50,000 people are being fed daily through this logistic centre,” said the charity’s spokesman.

“Similarly, permanent kitchens have been set up in Matiari, Moosa Khatiyan, Kotri and Tando Jam. The evacuation in Sindh and Balochistan is almost done. Now the bigger challenge is the shelter and food for the homeless people. The people are sitting on main highways and roads under open sky. Their settlement needs gigantic effort.”

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2022

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