MIRPURKHAS: Participants at a consultation demanded both the federal and provincial governments to take immediate measures to protect lives of flood affected people due to cold weather, especially those who are still living in relief camps and cannot return to their home due to standing flood water.
The consultation was jointly organized by National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) – Sindh and The Knowledge Forum (TKF) at Mirpur Khas Press Club. The participants of the consultation were from civil society, government officials, NGOs, and different marginalized communities from Mirpur Khas and surrounding districts.
Prominent among them were Sher Muhammad Solangi, Radha Bheel, Syed Shehanshah from SARSO, Advcate Shaukat Ali Rahimoon President Mirpur Khas Bar association and President Mirpurkhas Press Club Muhammad Bakhsh Kapri. Sharing his ordeal, one of the community members said “The winters have arrived and people affected in monsoon floods are still living in tents.
The flood water has receded in some areas but still many low- lying areas are under water. It is not possible to move back to homes as they are not livable. The camps have become nurseries of malaria, dengue, skin diseases and domestic violence.”
Another participant from the minority communities said that even before the floods they didn’t have much to cherish but he and his family had a mud house to live and didn’t face discrimination but after the floods his family is not only without a roof to live and there is nothing to eat but also facing discrimination in camps.
A participant of the consultation criticized Sindh and federal governments for being lethargic in relief works so they also raised the question that when will the rehabilitation work start as the winters have arrived. Moreover, he said that most of the camps are overcrowded and lack proper management. Only a single tent is there for a family of eight to ten members.
Toilets and washrooms are mostly nonexistent in most tents if there are they don’t have any proper drainage mechanism which is creating many health issues. Radha Bheel a, rights activist, said that due to lack of washrooms and toilets in tents the women and girls are compelled to use public washrooms and toilets which is a causing a lot problem for them.
She further said that the children and pregnant women are the most vulnerable and at risking of being neglected in these extraordinary situations. Moreover, participants also demanded that when the rehabilitation process starts, the government should particularly rehabilitate the affectees in a way that they are not vulnerable to future floods.
The participants also lamented that government has forgotten its role as the leader in relief efforts. It is only dependent on the INGOs and NGOs to help the affectees which is not a good omen in these testing situations.
In the closing remarks, Chandan Malhi coordinator NCHR thanked the participants for their input and said the at the end of the series of consultations across Sindh, the recommendations given by the participants would be presented to stakeholders who are overseeing relief and rehabilitation efforts in Sindh. The consultation was chaired by Chandan Malhi, Coordinator of NCHR and Zulfiqar Shah, member Sindh Human Rights Commission and Naghma Iqtidar from TKF.