The human mind is incapable of grasping the scale of the floods, the extent of this human tragedy, and what it means for 20 million to be affected. While the UN has pledged about $450 million, it acknowledges that this crisis of biblical proportion requires billions of dollars worth of aid.
In fact, the UN needs to take over the management of this disaster as it will only get worse. The Pakistani government and NGOs are utterly incapable of handling this because of lack of capacity, engineering, and (the government) an utter disrespect for human life. I don't know whether they are trying to save face and pretend to the world they can handle this situation - but quite frankly, this is beyond them The army and the civilian government combined do not have the foresight to even allow accurate reporting, and show the world really how much chaos and devastation these floods have caused. Why? It beats me. Perhaps, because they do not want to lose control of their population, and hence their legitimacy. People on the ground report the dead to be much higher than 1600 - yet media is sticking to this figure.
But this crisis is worsening as waters rise, starvation increases, and people stay out in the open. What I find shocking is that people who hail from villages that have now been submerged are going about their normal lives as if a little bit of charity is all they can participate in. This crisis has exposed the hypocrisy of big landlords; in many instances they have diverted water from their fields to those of poorer tenants in order to save their crops and profits.
Most people want to help; most want to make their donation But their main issue is not - Shit, this is a catastrophe - but shit, what if the NGO I give to is dishonest, and how can I help financially in a way that will make a difference? NGO dishonesty and food distribution is not the issue. Every NGO on the ground, (Edhi, TRDP) is working beyond capacity and skill. Whatever you give will not alleviate the crisis. But whatever you give, a portion of it at least, will be channeled through, and may provide wheat/tents/medicine for some people for some time. Whether they get it by looting a truck or convoy or by legal disbursement. So yes, give away. Give a lot. But remember, there can't be complete accountability and transparency. Yes, aid will be mismanaged, and misdirected. We do not have the NGO infrastructure that can cope with aid properly. I know an NGO worker who refused medicine loads because his organization simply can not accomplish distribution.
Individuals can and are going with trucks. That too is band aid. But what else can people do? Many people want to help. But volunteers must be organized and supervised, and oriented by experienced parties to the affected villages and their geography. Who will do this? Despite valiant online organizing efforts, how do people go into villages they do not have roots in and expect to make some sort of sustained difference in an organized manner?
S has been in Sukkur since Tuesday and is pretty much unable to leave the warehouse and see this peoples' tragedy because he says he can can't wrap his head around it anymore. He can't see the waters and helplessness in the eyes of the people sitting in open air. I think most of us can't. If something does not happen to our loved ones, we simply do not feel pain that acutely. Call it the human spirit, mental resilience if you will.
Children, as many as 8, naked, sitting under one plastic sheet. People facing increasing hunger. Livestock at roadsides, literally starving to death. Areas in Kashmore and Jacobabad at risk of becoming water-locked. Women at warehouses begging and fighting for one sack of flour. The pictures are everywhere.
Large scale airlift and rescue operations are needed immediately. The UN must start planning to rebuild infrastructure. Medical teams must be shipped out to deal with the health crisis to come with so many people exposed to waterborne diseases. Things will not be back to normal for at least 10 months as some estimate. There has to be some major plan to deal with the issue of food insecurity the entire population, not just these 20 million, will face.
We are in a state of emergency.