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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More