Pakistan: Sant’Egidio reaches out to flood survivors

Flood survivors camp out in tents

Flood survivors camp out in tents

They go out to the refugees in boats, the only means to help the people of Kot Addu, near Muzaffargahr, South Punjab), an area still flooded by the waters. The volunteers of the Community of Sant'Egidio – now present for ten years in Pakistan, with a network of over 200 members in six cities - are preparing aid (food, water, tents, hygiene kits) to be delivered in the coming days to 100 families in Kot Addu.

The displaced people, half Muslim, half Christian and Hindu families, feel abandoned: "There has been no registration by the government. Only the private NGOs are dealing with these people,"  said Sana Iqbal, coordinator of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Lahore. Of course, they do not even have a 'Watan Card"' to receive cash for rehabilitation.

The Community of Sant'Egidio is also bringing aid to Noshera and Charsadda, both in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the Northwest Frontier Province): "We found it a ghost town, completely destroyed: the situation is really dramatic. The refugees are massed in tents, which stretch as far as the eye can see, organized by Pakistani civil defense and NGOs. Some are even living among the tombs, as the local cemetery, built on a hill, was preserved from the floods," Fr Paul Christian, a priest of the community, returning from a trip to coordinate aid, said.

"In both cities, we have brought humanitarian aid to about 300 families, totaling 1,000 people. The refugees are mostly Muslim, but there are also religious minorities. The communities tend to be ghettoized. Sometimes we have realized that Christians were the last to receive assistance. We know that in general they are treated as second-class citizens in the country." "However, the presence of problems and difficulties, delays in aid, discrimination, corruption, the infiltration of radical Islamic groups, give further motivation not to abandon these refugees...Solidarity is the only answer," said the priest.

Source: Fides

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