Mengesha claims that the media sidelined Balochistan’s flood survivors. PHOTO: ONLINE
QUETTA: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Pakistan Mengesha Kebede on Tuesday drew attention to the plight of Balochistan’s flood survivors whose basic needs have not been met as yet. Kebede also complained that the mainstream media had largely forgotten about the flood victims in the province.
“The situation in Balochistan is worst; 1.2 million flood survivors are under shelters and half of them came from Sindh. The province was forgotten and the media did not play its role regarding the problems faced by survivors in Balochistan,” he observed.
He remarked that the media was ‘following the river and the routes of the flood’, and their prime focus remained southern Punjab and its adjoining areas, which greatly led them to ignore the devastated population in Balochistan.
While commenting on the outbreak of epidemics and water-borne diseases, Mengesha said that the water-borne diseases posed serious threat to the lives of the flood survivors, as it was difficult to reach out each and every victim; he however stressed upon the need to increase efforts on an emergency basis.
He also informed that the UNHCR has been functioning in Balochistan for the past 30 years, due to which the United Nations asked them to coordinate with its NGOs that were working in the health, food and other relief sectors in Balochistan. He also suggested that,
“Pakistan is major producer of tents and jerrycans. UNHCR and other organizations buy tents and jerrycans from Pakistan to save transportation costs; all organisations should buy it from Pakistan in this time of need.”
He claimed that it was a challenge to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other humanitarian groups to cope with such a situation, adding that his organisation had already sent 27 trucks carrying relief goods to Balochistan.
Mengesha Kebede remarked that twenty million people have been rendered homeless across the Pakistan by flash floods and the survivors are in dire need of food, clean drinking water and medicines.
He said that UNHCR has made an appeal for hundred and twenty million dollars to help out the flood affected people of Pakistan and so far 4 per cent of appeal had been received.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2010.