A leading bishop has described the scenes of destruction following the floods in Pakistan, with villagers resorting to extreme measures to protect their livestock.
Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad spoke to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) after his visit to Catholic village Mariamnagar, Sindh province and went to repeat his claim that the government has not done enough to support Christians.
Bishop Shukardian said: “Instead of protecting themselves, the locals had placed mosquito nets on their livestock. The goats and cows are their source of income, as well as milk. It is very difficult to spend a single night in flooded villages due to mosquitos.
“All Church-run schools in the swamped rural areas are closed, their furniture is destroyed and the walls are leaking. I was born in Hyderabad but I have never seen so much rain in my life.”
He added: “There is a lack of planning by the provincial government, accused of mismanaging the funds. It will take at least six months for the water to dry. There is no drainage system in the villages.
“None of the local parliamentarians have helped the Christians affected by the flood. Flood-related aid is also our aid.”
During the floods between July and August, a total of 2,016,008 houses were damaged while 1,596 people and 1,040,735 animals were killed.
An official study revealed that the floods caused a combined loss of £1.52 billion.
Bishop Shukardin said: “It’s a serious situation. I am concerned about the coming months. The destruction continues after the torrential rains. A solidarity visit by clergy or religious is a great source of consolation for those trapped by flood waters.”
The floods have left poor people owing money to rich landlords, called waderas, who own hundreds of acres of farms.
The bishop said: “Nobody can compete with the waderas. Sadly, the poor are always affected by annual flooding. Most of the affected include those living illegally in dried riverbeds. Generations of poor peasants are already under bonded labour.”
Patras Baagh, a 65-year-old farmer in the region, told ACN: “The mosquitos returned after a day of fumigation. The children are now being infected with throat infection, malaria, dengue and skin diseases. We don’t have money to buy schoolbooks.”
ACN committed £180,000 to provide emergency aid to more than 5,000 families and to help repair the damaged churches and community infrastructure in Hyderabad diocese.
The charity agreed a further £27,000 for the Archdiocese of Karachi to distribute 310 food packages, cooking utensils and hygiene kits to struggling families.
With thanks to Kamran Chaudhry