Floodwaters in Pakistan are beginning to recede in parts of the south, as the country struggles to provide desperately needed aid to millions across the country. On Monday, thousands of people began returning to their homes in the historic city of Thatta in Sindh province.
Major Imran Ali Khan is a helicopter pilot who has been flying relief missions. "Floodwater entered Sajawal city, as a result of which nearby villages got submerged,” he said. “We are trying to get relief to them. The greatest need is to get food and water to them. We are rescuing men, women and children who have not been able to get out for some reason, and are bringing them to Thatta, so they can go to safer places."
Many displaced residents had been staying at a vast Muslim graveyard on a hill just outside the city. U.S. officials say more than six million people in Sindh province alone have been displaced and more than four and a-half million need humanitarian assistance.
Mir Ghulam is an elderly resident who has had his tractor stuck in thick mud since the floods began about one month ago. Mr. Ghulam said "We do not have anything. My family is living in a tent in the college (relief camp). I have appealed to everyone to help me pull my vehicle out of the mud so that I can start working and earning something for my children. But no one is coming to assist me. We have not even received a proper tent."
The situation has impacted all aspects of life in the region. Haq Nawaz had planned to get married. "We were extending our house because my father said he would arrange my marriage if the house was renovated, but the floods came and swept away everything. Now what am I going to do?" Nawaz said.
The U.N. World Food Program estimated Monday that about 800,000 people are stranded by the floodwaters and can only be reached by air. The United States said it plans to double the number of support helicopters in Pakistan to about 30 within the next 14 days.