September 7, 2022
By Agha Qadir Shah
KALAT: Around 30 displaced and homeless families from the flood-hit Ghari Khairo tehsil of Jacobabad in Sindh, relocated to Balochistan’s Kalat city, only to find similar circumstances there.
Around 72 flood affected persons, most of whom are women and children, are now staying in two decrepit houses in Kohang on the outskirts of Kalat. Many of them have walked on foot hundreds of kilometers to reach the provincial capital of Quetta looking for safety and food after they lost their homes when the floods inundated their village. The tehsil Ghari Khairo is on the border of Balochistan.
At that point the families having no choice, relocated to Kalat, in the hope of finding shelter and respite there, from the floods that not only destroyed their homes, but also devastated their crops, and swept away their livestock. Contrary to their expectations however, Kalat did not prove to be too hospitable, and they have ended up in squeezing themselves into two decrepit structures.
The already malnourished children had nothing to eat and drink, while many of them have fallen ill during the arduous journey there.
“Our children have fallen ill, but they have nothing to eat or drink, and there is not even any medicine for them,” says Mah Bibi, a middle-aged woman while speaking to Voicepk.net.
She complains that nobody from the district administration, relief workers, or local residents have come to their assistance ever since they arrived here a few days ago.
“No one has asked us, ‘where you have come from’ and ‘why are you all living out in the open sky without a bed’,” she laments.
The families had to trek on foot for hundreds of kilometres to Quetta due to the closure of Bolan Pass. They then relocated to Kalat on vehicles.
“We reached Kalat with great difficulty but nobody has asked us about our problems and offered any assistance,” says Samina Bibi as she narrates how more flood-hit families in Sindh continue to arrive in Kalat in hope of succor. “Another family from Ghari Khairo has reached Kalat after walking a long distance but they also have nothing to eat and no roof to stay under.”
“Our houses were swept away by the flood, leaving us with nothing to support ourselves,” says Sharaf Khatoon, an elderly woman in the displaced band of families. “The children are starving as we are forced to live under the open sky,” she adds.
The floods have left the families penniless and unable to pay any rent on the houses. “We have got a rented house but it is not livable – we cannot even pay the rent,” says Taj Bibi.
The flood victims have appealed to the Kalat administration to give them immediate assistance as they have neither food nor a place to stay while most of their children are sick.
International relief agencies have warned that women and children would bear the brunt of floods in the country.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, estimates that almost 650,000 pregnant women in flood-affected areas require maternal health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and childbirth. Up to 73,000 women expected to deliver next month will need skilled birth attendants, newborn care, and support. In addition, many women and girls are at an increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) as almost 1 million houses have been damaged.
In a recent statement, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said that around 47,000 displaced pregnant women from the flood-affected areas of Sindh have been kept in relief camps in different parts of the province.