News / Asia

Pakistan's 'Switzerland' Awaits Relief Amid Disastrous Flooding

Flood survivors cross a hastily-repaired bridge next to a main bridge swept away by flood waters in Swat Valley, 10 Aug 2010
Flood survivors cross a hastily-repaired bridge next to a main bridge swept away by flood waters in Swat Valley, 10 Aug 2010

After more than two weeks of non-stop torrential rains and devastating floods in Pakistan, one of the hardest hit areas is Swat Valley, often called Pakistan's Switzerland for its stunning mountainous terrain.

The people of Swat Valley, tucked in Pakistan's northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, have faced one crisis after another during the last several years: an earthquake in 2005 and a violent movement of Islamic extremists followed by a military crackdown last year. And, now deadly flooding, the worst Pakistan has experienced in more than 80 years.

Thousands of homes have been destroyed and the Valley has, at times, been so cut off due to ongoing bad weather that helicopters have been unable to reach the homeless. Among the international agencies trying to bring basic humanitarian relief to Swat Valley is the British-based international charity Oxfam.  Describing the floods as "the biggest disaster in the world right now," Oxfam is attempting to prick the world's conscience into sending more money to help an estimated 14 million affected people.

But the money has been slow in coming, said Jane Cocking, Oxfam's humanitarian director who is in the Valley's main town of Mingora. "We've been looking into just the amount of money submitted by government to the aid efforts here and it is significantly lower than it has been in other crises. It is a very difficult one, it's a very complicated one and it's spread over a huge geographical area and so that might be causing some of the problems. Undoubtedly the response has been slower," said Cocking.


Despite the lack of immediate assistance, Cocking has witnessed the hardiness of the people who live in Swat.

"I'm always absolutely stunned by people's resilience. The people we have been with this morning are about 50 kilometers up the Valley, where the road has been completely washed away and so they are having to walk down from their villages in the mountains to collect whatever they can," Cocking said.  "We were talking to old men, women, children who had walked two days from villages to collect one bag of food, which they were going to take back with them. What we're looking at is thousands of people who just have no access to fresh water and food that they really desperately need."

Cocking said what people in Swat need most of all are the basics of life: shelter for those who have lost their homes, clean water and medical attention.  For the other areas that have been drenched, parts of central Punjab province and more recently, southern Sindh province, Oxfam's Cocking said the most urgent need right now is cash.

"So that their own governments, so that the international organizations, the United Nations, can get on with the job of helping them get hold of the absolute basics of life in the next few days and weeks. And then, looking forward we need a lot of help to help people rebuild their lives," said Cocking.

Marveling at the resilience of Pakistanis, she said, "A lot of these people who have really had a terrible time over the past few years.  And they really are coping absolutely amazingly with it."

[VOA's Sarah Williams contributed to this report]

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid