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

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid