August 02, 2010
Catholic Relief Services Aids Pakistan Flood Survivors
Catholic Relief Services teams are hiking through mudslide areas to reach survivors of massive floods that have killed more than 1,200 people and affected an estimated 1 million people in Pakistan.
"For tens of thousands of people, these floods have been a catastrophe," says Carolyn Fanelli, Head of Programming and Acting Country Representative for CRS Pakistan. "In some areas, whole villages have been wiped off the map. Others are now cut off from main roads and markets."
As CRS began preparing aid for areas hit earlier by the flooding, CRS teams hiked on foot to remote areas of Kohistan district to assess the most urgent needs there. Navigating past submerged roads and destroyed bridges, the teams spoke to Pakistanis who have lost their homes, crops, livestock and small businesses. Food is running short, and clean drinking water is not available.
"People from the interior are now walking 8 to 10 hours to reach a market where food is available," reports the head of office for CRS Besham. "Although many newly homeless people are staying with relatives, some are sleeping out in the open."
During the worst of the flooding, some CRS staff in the town of Besham moved to higher ground to sleep. A washed-out bridge cut off several from the CRS office there.
CRS is organizing shipments of humanitarian aid to Balochistan, where the flooding struck earlier. The aid packages include water purification tablets, soap, cookware, jerry cans and more. In the areas of Kohistan and Shangla, CRS will provide emergency shelter kits and hygiene supplies. In several areas including Swat, CRS is also planning cash-for-work projects, paying people affected by the disaster to build irrigation channels, pathways and retaining walls.
Communities have begun creating rope bridges to replace paved bridges that were washed away. "It may be months before the road bridges are rebuilt," says Fanelli. "That will be a challenge for the delivery of relief items. But we are thinking of creative ways of delivering goods, including helping communities build trolleys across the river."
CRS has offices in Besham and Swat, along with three other offices in the country.
Interviews with field staff are available. Please contact Laura Sheahen or Michael Hill.
Catholic Relief Services is the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency provides assistance to people in more than 100 countries and territories based on need, regardless of race, nationality or creed. For more information, please visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org.