Challenging Earthquake Relief Effort in Balochistan
The ongoing fighting between separatists rebels and the government is hampering the relief efforts.
Sabtu, 26 Okt 2013 15:25 WIB
The mountains here in Balochistan are rich in mineral wealth… but the community remains the poorest in Pakistan.
A powerful earthquake of 7.8 magnitude hit Pakistan’s volatile Balochistan province last month.
More than 700 people died and hundreds of thousands more were injured and left homeless.
Even before the earthquake there was no electricity here… no running water.
The earthquake last month has made life even harder.
In the Awaran district, 600 kilometres from Karachi, earthquake victims wait in the scorching heat for some relief from a local aid organization.
Fazal Rehman is the country director of Helping Hand Relief and Development.
“This village is completely destroyed. You can see all houses are destroyed, our first priority is to provide them shelter.’’
Like many people here, 70-year-old Kareem Dad doesn’t speak the national language Urdu.
Using Balochi and sign language he says he lost a young child from his family.
Local shopkeeper Omid Ali’s children were injured in the quake.
“Nobody came for help,” says Omid Ali, a local shopkeeper. His children were injured in the quake.
“I have to carry them all the way to Karachi. We are poor people. No one listens to us normally and not even during the disaster.”
There are strong anti-Pakistan slogans on these broken walls.
An armed separatist movement has been fighting for great control over the regions natural wealth for over a decade now.
The ongoing fighting makes getting aid out challenging.
“The security forces and government halted us and warned us of attacks by the militants. But we insisted to carry on. Even some local Baloch stopped us and interrogated us,” says
Abdul Aziz, Chief Aid Officer of Al-Khidmat welfare organisation, which was among the first to reach here.
Armed groups have attacked security forces more than twice in the last month since the earthquake.
Foreign aid agencies are advised by the government not to visit the areas for security reasons.
Local aid worker Abdul Hakeem explains why.
“The aid agencies are confused. If they take the government security forces with them, then they are afraid they will be targeted. If they go without the forces then they are afraid of being attacked too.”
The local government insists they are doing their best to get help to the affected people as quickly as possible.
“I admit there have been some incidents,” says Muhammad Akbar, the District Commissioner of the region.
“It’s not perfect but let me assure you we will not give-up helping the affected people.’’
And the approaching winter brings new challenges to the hundreds of thousands of homeless people in Balochistan.
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