In Pakistan, a city becomes a place of uncertain refuge
In the excerpt below, Oxfam’s Mubashar Hasan reports from Sukkur, a city in Sindh province, Pakistan. The UN estimates 1.1 million people in Sindh province alone have lost their homes, crops, and livestock during the major floods now affecting the country. While global funding for the emergency response has been slow, Oxfam and partners are aiming to reach more than 650,000 people with clean water, sanitation kits, and other essential aid.
As soon as I approached the city of Sukkur, I felt the tension in the air. I saw many folks were stopping their cars on Sukkur Barrage and anxiously looking down to the water flows of Indus River to measure the increase of the water level. Security was beefed up around the riverbanks where Pakistan Army, rangers and police personnel have closed many roads.
Sukkur is making headlines as next possible place to be hit by floodwater. If it happens, according to official predictions, many parts of Sindh Province will go under water.
After entering the city, I was roaming in an old, congested suburb near the riverside named Myani Road. Many shops in that place were closed down, and some people in small groups were discussing what to do. Few of them were going near to the river to measure the water level.
“We are living in anxiety here,” one man, Dr. Natwar Lal, told me. “Any moment water could submerge our shops and homes.”
I went further up and reached a place called Bandar Road by the riverside. Here I saw many people–including young kids, women, men and the elderly–coming up on the streets with their belongings. They said their villages had been submerged by water, and they had nowhere to live apart from the city streets.
They told me that around 3,000 people are now living in makeshift shanties in the city. Many are homeless, jobless, and hungry, having no way to earn money to buy food.
“I have been living in my house since 1973 with my family,” said 69-year-old Amriya Begum, pointing to the surging water level of the Indus River. “Now, this river takes everything away from me.”
Donate to Oxfam’s flood relief and recovery efforts in Pakistan.