Lahore, August 10: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon the United Nations and other aid and humanitarian organisations to support Pakistan in meeting the needs of millions of people affected by country’s worst ever floods as well as reconstructing the entire infrastructure of the flood-hit areas.
In a statement issued on Tuesday on behalf of the HRCP chairperson, vice-chairpersons and members of the Board, the HRCP “called upon the United Nations, and other international aid and humanitarian assistance organisations to pay urgent attention to the assistance needs of around 14 million Pakistanis devastated by a calamity acknowledged to be more severe in scale than the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined”.
“After three weeks of deadly floods and with 13.8 million people affected already, the scale of the tragedy engulfing Pakistan is only beginning to emerge. It is far too early to even assess the damage and needs of the affected people in many areas, such as Swat where rescue workers have so far been unable to reach up to 600,000 stranded people.
Internal displacement has occurred at a large scale and an estimated 300,000 houses have been washed away.
The HRCP is highly concerned about the situation of the affected population, which is in urgent need of life-sustaining support. The authorities are still struggling to cope with emergency response. It is getting clearer by the day that Pakistan’s capacity to help the affected population has been seriously jeopardized by a lack of financial resources, extensive destruction of infrastructure and the sheer scale of devastation wrought by the floods. The human casualties may have been fewer in comparison with the October 2005 earthquake, but critical food needs, displacement in oppressive heat and humidity and threats of outbreak of diseases loom large amid large-scale destruction of the health infrastructure in large swathes of the country.
Immediate interventions are needed to limit further loss of human life. The rescue work and delivery of emergency food, medical supplies and other assistance to those in need is the first and the most urgent challenge. The country needs urgent assistance not only during the ongoing rescue and emergency response phase but also for rescue equipment, housing needs of the affected population, and reconstruction of the decimated infrastructure.
Lessons from the 2005 earthquake and other disasters before and since must serve as a reminder that failure to respond to the crisis in an expeditious and appropriate manner would lead to militant groups filling the vacuum in the provision of assistance and using that to increase their support and further their agenda.
The HRCP also calls upon the government of Pakistan to ginger up its response to the massive crisis and take every possible step to make certain that the aid is delivered to the needy at the earliest and that all possibilities of misuse of funds are blocked.”
Dr Mehdi Hasan
On behalf of vice-chairpersons and members of the HRCP Board