Pakistan: More eye-witness accounts reveal humanitarian disaster in aftermath of floods

Urgent response to solidarity appeal needed!

As previous reports on have graphically illustrated, the devastating impact on lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and society of the massive floods which hit Pakistan 2 weeks ago, has surpassed expectations. The following quote from Middle East Report Online "Disaster Strikes the Indus River Valley" gives a chilling impression of the scale of the desperate situation facing Pakistan’s impoverished masses:

“The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 20 million Pakistanis are in dire need, many of them homeless or displaced, others cut off from help by fallen bridges and submerged highways, untold numbers lacking supplies of food and potable water. In the August heat, waterborne disease is a mortal peril, especially to children, 3.5 million of whom are said to be vulnerable. Measured in numbers of people affected, says OCHA spokesman Maurizio Giuliano, ‘This disaster is worse than the tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the Haiti earthquake.’ …By that yardstick, as the well-known scholar Ahmed Rashid writes, it is also worse than all four of Pakistan’s wars with India and maybe even, as the Pakistani prime minister laments, the 1947 partition.”

The United Nations’ Secretary General, Ban-Ki-Moon, also described the disaster as the worst situation he had ever seen.

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding, in which comrades of the CWI are making heroic efforts, mobilising, through the national Workers’ Relief Committee, to offer physical aid to those affected. We appeal to all readers, socialists and trade unionists to urgently act on the Appeal for workers’ solidarity issued by the Trade Union Rights Campaign Pakistan (TURCP).

Eye-witness accounts

An increasing number of eye-witness accounts being published on the TURCP website reveal the hopeless situation facing communities in many parts of the country, including Baluchistan, Punjab, and the Swat Valley, which has only recently seen widespread suffering and devastation as a result of the war between Taliban insurgents and the Pakistani military. However, as one flood victim is quoted as saying in one of the eye-witness accounts, “The damage caused by the floods has been much greater than what has been inflicted on us by insurgents. I couldn’t imagine that Swat would suffer so much destruction…”.

These accounts also serve to expose the criminal neglect and incapacity of the Pakistani government in providing even the most basic relief to the millions affected. They also give a taste of the bitter despair and anger among those who, in the aftermath of this terrible disaster, have been left to their own devices, facing hunger and the threat of disease, against the country’s corrupt capitalist ruling elite. As one victim in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa put it, “Our women and children have been swept away, and people left hungry and thirsty, while ministers are flying in helicopters…”.

All eye-witness accounts, along with the TURCP’s urgent appeal for solidarity, can be seen at the TURCP website at

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August 2010