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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid