As the mass evacuation of flood victims begins in Kashmir, local humanitarian NGO Al Imdaad Foundation (AIF) is getting its emergency operation into gear. The foundation’s Qari Ziyaad Patel said its operation in the Kashmir region has been active long before the recent five day heavy rains which has already claimed the lives of 450 people, leaving hundreds of others destitute.
For decades, a territorial dispute between the government of India, Kashmiri insurgent groups and the Pakistani government has left locals living in impoverished conditions. The most recent torrential rain has made conditions in the area far worse. The AIF’s ground partner in the area has already set up an orphanage and has successfully been managing the facility in recent years.
“We had to respond quickly to the emergency which has been declared in the Kashmiri region. Because it is a very mountainous region, flooding has gotten so severe that water levels rose to 12 feet,” Patel said.
“We will be sending our South African representatives soon with more relief aid to the region. People there require shelter, food, clothing and material to begin rebuilding their home.”
Anger mounted Wednesday over the slow pace of rescue operations in Kashmir as officials said they were “overwhelmed” by the scale of deadly flooding. Emergency workers are scrambling to rescue residents left marooned on rooftops and clinging to trees.
With many parts of Indian Kashmir’s main city Srinagar still cut off days after the floods hit, residents and rescuers alike criticised the state government’s response, with one military officer saying officials were nowhere to be seen.
On Wednesday it emerged that one rescue officer had been wounded in an attack by furious residents earlier in the week as anger boiled over. National Disaster Response Force director general O.P. Singh told the NDTV news channel an “aggressive crowd” had tried to attack a rescue boat, injuring the officer.
While thousands of soldiers and other emergency workers stepped up operations in India’s Kashmir Valley as waters started to recede, the region’s top leader said he could understand people’s anger.
Nearly 600,000 people have been affected there and crops destroyed, an official said. In the city of Lahore, the death toll from a mosque collapse rose to 24, while a provincial minister said the heavy monsoon rains may have been a contributing factor.
While the world focuses on Iraq, Gaza and other parts of the world currently in the spotlight, very little attention has been placed on plight of those in Kashmir. Images streaming in show the devastation in the area, added Patel.
The foundation has been focussing its efforts on many parts of the world. Feeding programmes and providing medical supplies are some of the areas where the foundation has been able to provide support and assistance but still, it relies on generous donations from the public to continue its efforts in areas where devastation has affected the lives of people.
Contact the foundation on 0861 786 243 for more information on how to make donations. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)