SA relief efforts in Pakistan

2010-08-16 14:34

Cape Town - As rains continue to be forecast for parts of already flooded Pakistan, South African charity organisation Gift of the Givers is heeding calls from the Pakistani government and the UN for more foreign aid.

The organisation's Imtiaz Sooliman said on Monday two teams were already stationed in the south of Pakistan - one in Sindh province's Shah Bander, not far from the Indus River.

"We're setting up to feed 5 000 people," Sooliman told News24 adding that people affected by the flooding of the river made up most of that number.

Sooliman said the other team, stationed in the further northern area of Punjab, would hand over food parcels to the Pakistani navy for distribution.

 "One thousand food parcels and utensils have been delivered to the head of the navy and will be taken to areas that are inaccessible," he said.

Getting aid to affected areas has been hampered by inaccessibility of the transport network because of damage caused by the flooding.

Other supplies the organisation is sending as part of its relief efforts include water purification tablets and 12 000 units of high energy food.


"We're also looking at buying clothes, but right now the priority is food," he said.

Sooliman said they were hoping to send a medical team as soon as conditions allowed.

"People are moving all over the place. It's not practical right now."

It is estimated that 1 500 people have been killed and 20 million have been affected by the floods that started more than two weeks ago in the country's northwest parts.

"It's huge. Not in terms of loss of life but in terms of loss of property, agriculture, the economy... it's huge," Sooliman said.

It has been reported that the UN has received only 20% of the $460m it initially appealed for as aid for the country which is locked in a war with Islamic anti-government militants.

Sooliman said although he would be flying to Pakistan at the end of the week to "monitor operations", the teams were made up of Pakistani nationals who are part of a network established by the Gift of the Givers during relief operations following a devastating earthquake in that country in 2005.

Appeal to mosques

Meanwhile the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has called on Muslims in the Western Cape to contribute to an initiative that help fund relief efforts.

"The MJC identifies with the humanitarian crisis that is playing itself out in Pakistan," the council's Abdul Khaliq Allie told News24.

Allie said an appeal for contributions would be read out by imams at various mosques around the Western Cape to congregants during the Friday prayer.

He said receipts would be made out to mosques for their contributions and the council would make sure that it reaches areas of Pakistan where there is most need.

Click here for information on how to make contributions to the Gift of the Givers.