PAKISTAN: Bishops – Our people are desperate for help
· Gov’t not doing enough to address floods crisis
Pakistan Church leaders have said the government is doing very little in response to the floods crisis and have renewed their urgent appeals to help the millions affected by the catastrophe.
The bishops went on to thank charities including Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) which earlier this month rushed through a package of food, medicine and shelter for more than 5,000 families.
Bishop Samson Shukardin in worst-affected Sindh Province described ACN’s response as “remarkable”.
Speaking at an ACN-organised video conference, which took place yesterday (Thursday, 15th September), the bishop from Hyderabad diocese spoke out against the government’s apparent long-term failure to address the floods crisis, saying climate change was having a huge impact.
He said: “Many of the places are flooded but the government has no plan… They are not doing anything to protect our people, especially in the remote areas.
“The remote areas are not being protected, only the big cities, allowing water to reach the poor areas and the poor people who do not have the resources.”
Describing Sindh government floods support valued at US$100 (£88) per family as “really nothing compared to the losses they have had,” Archbishop Benny Travas of Karachi said basic medicines had run out in some places.
Pharmacies “hid” supplies, he said, and others were profiteering, causing prices to skyrocket.
He said: “Dengue fever is coming up – it is overloading the hospitals and now the hospitals are saying ‘There is no place, just go home and look after yourself.’”
The archbishop said that, unlike in the floods of 2010, the government has prevented international NGOs from operating within the country.
Bishop Khalid Rehmat of Quetta said: “There has been very little help from the government but the local people have helped us.”
The bishops described discrimination in the distribution of government aid along tribal lines, with some groups, including marginalised religious and poverty-stricken communities, being denied vital support.
The Church leaders said many people in the country recognised the Church as a transparent provider of emergency and other vital aid, adding that this help would have been impossible without organisations such as ACN.
Bishop Shukardin said: “We are very grateful to [ACN]. We were not expecting such a good response. The response that ACN has given is remarkable. It is helping us support people in different ways – food packages, medical camps, tents, repairing houses.”