August 17th, 2010
12:22 PM ET

Aid group preps for ‘second disaster’ in Pakistan

Many Pakistani streets and valleys are submerged in water, and in some areas you can't tell where the waterways end and the flooding begins.

In other locales, most of the structures are simple gone. Monsoon rains left about one-fifth of the country underwater, and children and adults wade through the filthy aftermath pleading for help.

Almost all the mud houses at Azakhel camp have been turned into clay.

Peter Biro of the International Rescue Committee, an aid agency, has surveyed the damage since relentless flooding two weeks ago washed over the country, destroying homes, taking lives and ruining entire villages.

"I was just walking down by the river and it’s completely devastated," Biro said. "Even the bigger houses are collapsing. The roofs are falling out. There are huge concrete slabs in the water and smaller houses are just gone. The poor houses have completely vanished."

In many of the areas struggling to cope with the floods, residents had already struggled with armed conflict in the area and were beginning to recover, Biro said.

That all changed with this month’s deluges.

"The big problem for the aid groups is how very difficult the area is to get through," Biro said, noting that for even aid groups and people who know the area well, getting to your destination is immensely problematic.

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"It's extraordinarily hard to get to anyone. Driving here, along the way you see all the bridges are damaged. Big concrete bridges that carried trucks are gone and, of course, the smaller bridges too," he said. "And it’s not just the big rivers that are overflowing; it’s small streams that are also creating a lot of damage, too."

The Afghan refugees have lived at Azakhel for decades. Now they have once again been forced to flee again, with many living on a highway.

Swollen rivers and tributaries in some residential neighborhoods breached their banks, making the flooding worse.

"There are just so many people who live close to one. How do you begin to fix the lives of millions of people?" Biro asked.

Despite the frustration and challenges, Biro and his IRC colleagues are pushing ahead to help whoever they can.

Once the floodwaters begin to recede, putting the Pakistani people back on their feet will be difficult. The dangers of flooded streets and villages will be replaced by the threats of contaminated drinking water, waterborne disease, cramped shelters and an inability to maintain hygiene, Biro said.

"People are being forced to drink bad water and we're seeing an increased number of diarrhea cases and skin infections," Biro said.

"And that is going to be the big challenge going forward. That's the second disaster."

A joint report last year by the U.N. and World Health Organization said diarrhea kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

A refugee sits among what was formerly his home in the Azakhel camp near the city of Peshawar in Noshewera district, Khyber Pakthunkhwa province.

The IRC is hoping that by distributing water-purification tablets they can curb the spread of disease.

"The next critical step for us will be to clean out and disinfect wells and bring clean water via tanker trucks to the devastated communities," Biro said.

For many, the end seems far away. Gone not only are the towns and structures they called home but also the things Pakistanis need to subsist.

"Now the people, of course, have no income," Biro said. "They say they've lost their sewing machines, their bicycles that they run errands with. They have very little left."

For those staying in refugee camps, the situation was already desperate. Biro said one camp with 30,000 refugees was completely washed away, forcing these people to flee the very place where they once sought refuge.

At least 1,600 people have been killed and 20 million impacted by the flooding throughout Pakistan.

"They are just sitting around. A lot of them were sitting on the side of the highway under canvas tents," he said.

With aid sparse and food distribution slow because of infrastructure challenges, Pakistanis are relying on neighbors on higher ground who may have something to share.

"People keep saying that they don't have enough food. It’s donations basically, so that's a very strong component in people's survival – relying on each other," Biro said.

soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. remindme

    can someone please tell me how much aid Haiti, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Dubai or any country at all sent to help us with Katrina, the Muslim attacks on America, the Gulf oil spill or any disaster here in the United States – does ANYONE HELP US? We send 10 billion that taxpayers know about and how many billions we don't to Pakistan alone and all the other middle east countries that hate us and thats enough we need to stop sending these foreign countries billions every time they have a natural disaster because we are not responsible for natural disasters

    August 17, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Can you also remind me why the US has military bases in those countries and supports puppet dictators while talking about democracy at the same time.
      When Saudi Arabia is allowed to have a Military base in Chicago, then you can expect some Aid in the next Katrina. Until then shut it.

      August 17, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • kgb


      August 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      No help needed USA is the richest supa power

      August 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • reminder

      You need to be reminded that the U.S. is one of the wealthiest nations with the best resources for disasters. It's about having a heart and helping 20 million people, and not expecting something in return.

      August 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • YNG4crusade

      Your 10 billions will not be lost !!! It is allready coming back in US as a Ground Zero Mosque !!! 400 million is a first step !!!

      August 17, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skib

      Afghanistan pledged $100,000 in aid. Pakistan gave us a medical team and gave our Red Cross $1 million. Saudi Arabia gave us over $5 million. Iran offered 20 million barrels of crude oil because it looked like our refineries were done for. Iraq pledged $1 million to the Red Cross. United Arab Emirates (Dubai) pledged $100 million. Most of the aid pledged by foreign countries went unclaimed by the government.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • dexter89

      Are you serious nimrod...When the US gets their bases out of these countries and has there foothold and strong-arm over these countries gone. Wake up and see what the US govt has been doing for the past 50 years...geez, some people.

      August 17, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Echo1

      Please include the US government into your list. You have appended your own people in front of the whole world with pictures.

      August 18, 2010 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Sadia

      Dear Remindme, Please do not think that Pakistani people did not feel pain and agony of Katrina or any other calamity in the US or elsewhere. It is only that the country is not in a position to donate huge amounts to a country like US. Furthermore, there were no "Islamic attacks" on the US. Those were acts of certain individuals who had political demands. If you argue that , then I haven't seen any public sympathy for innocent Pakistanis , Afghans and Iraqis killed in brutal suicide attacks. On an average 10 Pakistani soldiers are killed in so called war on terror. This is not about state to state relationship but from human to human.

      August 18, 2010 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      We didn't need their aide. We can take care of our own. They cannot. Their crops are lost. You are so blind.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • acmed Shams

      May we never forget how brutal and dictatorial the Taliban are and why US forces are so needed there
      Please watch this. Seriously.

      August 19, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • destiny

      i see what youre saying sound off that we dnt cauz nature disasterz but its nice to help ppl now n den nd havnt u herd the saying treet ppl the way u woul wnna be treated nd if u havnt herd of it lern it bcuz u hav a hella cold hart for sayin wat u said see im haitian and domican and white nd wen i herd bout the disaster nd haiti i soon contact my grandmotha dat livs der an she says she grateful fo r sme of da help america as help dem wit!! kkkk so think bout wat u say bfor u say it!

      August 27, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. remindme

    pleas include Mexico to the list who does NOT HELP THE UNITED STATES

    August 17, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      What do you mean? They give us the dregs of their population to pick our crops!

      August 17, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skib

      Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas received almost 196 Mexican troops, 14 truckloads of water, a mobile surgical unit, 45 military vehicles, 3 tons of purified water, and more than 250 tons of food, bottled water, canned food, disposable diapers and medical supplies. The Mexican Government sent $1 million through the Mexican Red Cross which collected an additional million, as well as 200 tons of food delivered in five airplanes from the Mexican Air Force by another Mexican Government body. The Mexican Navy sent two ships, 385 troopers, eight all-terrain vehicles, seven amphibious vehicles, two tankers, two helicopters, radio communication equipment, medical personnel and 296 tons of food as well. The state of Jalisco also sent four experts in disaster, while the Federal government offered to send expert teams in epidemiology and to cover the costs of returning any Mexican national back to Mexico.

      August 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jccasanova

    I understand and feel very sorry for the hard time Pakistan is having, however, where is all the AID WHICH we give pakistan every year, I believe to be in the Billions.... I believe this money could help them now in their time of need.

    August 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • amust

      US gave $10Billion to Pakistan mostly on condition to buy US weaponaries to be used agianst own pakistanis. I pray to ALLAH that not a single penny comes from US/IMF/Worlbank to Pakistan in this crucial time.. yes, many Pakistan will die, die hungry, afflict with disease, but it is better than US aid that is primarily means to support US military industrial complex. I am sure our president Obama knows better how the money is given to these poor countries.

      August 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darren

      I fully agre JCC. Pakistani muslims are always eager to ask for help when in need but most of the money fills pockets of their politicians. Also, unlike Christianity and other religions which teach mercy and sympathy for fellow humans, most muslims have no tolerance for other religions. For how long should the world keep on helping them?

      August 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • junior

      amust, why don't you go back to Pakistan and help your people out you coward.

      August 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • I Aristotle Ur Mom

      They aren't asking you for AID, Stop giving them!!! Let the Taliban help them Please...You guys have already lost the war ;] ..Talibans have all the money in the world .... Republicans friend "the King of Saudi Arabia" ...All that oil money goes there for funding !

      August 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • dexter89

      junior why don't you suit up and die for your country you coward!

      August 17, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jack h.

    THIS PROBLEM WAS NOT CAUSED BY GOD. it was caused by overpopulation. send billions of dollars to build houses and feed these people and it will only happen again. most of any aid will be stolen by the corrupt government or the taliban so why waste your money. these people are muslims who have nothing but hatred for us because of decades of education in saudi funded whabbi maddrasses. let the muslim world sort this problem out. ANY AID FROM AMERICA SHOULD BE CONDOMS AND BIRTH CONTROL PILLS.

    August 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • southbaygal

      Maybe someone should tell the Taliban that what happened in Pakistan is punishment from Allah for the evil the Taliban does and for hiding Osama bin Laden. Maybe other countries will think twice before immitating the Taliban.

      August 17, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. corkpuller

    Haiti has all of Pakistanis relief aid money. Redirect it.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Erich

    Just how God-like do these people want us to be? This is a country that would rub their hands together in glee if this happened in the U.S.. This is a country that would like to see our children killed in terrorist attacks. Mosques at Ground Zero, aid to terrorist countries, my God, we have our limits. I will not send a penny. I'll just double up my alms to Haiti.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andre

      You need Jesus in your life. Being so materialistic will only bring you disappointment. Help people, regardless and don't judge them for the actions of others. Because some extremists done something bad, doesn't mean the whole entire population of that particular country they came from will be the same. Hitler done his bad stuff in Germany but if you ask a German person, they would not be proud of it (at least most of them won't). Compassion, help people. One day, you will be the one needing help. The same way you Judge, you will be judged. Money is just a peace of paper. Never stop helping the needed.

      August 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Khan

      Does not surprise to see how any topic around Pakistan (good or bad) attracts Indians to come out and leave no opportunity write crap just like you did. May your bhagwan reduce some hatred from your heart!

      August 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Onamier

    This does feel like devine retribution to some but remember we're all human beings and in the end all we have is eachother. Think about the future... if we don't help, then people who are anti-american just have another 'bullet' in their guns. However, if we can show peace & compassion to the people of Pakistan in their time of need a few of them just might change their ideas of America and that is where the real WAR is... the hearts and minds of people.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mw

    Heartless pigs.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • I Aristotle Ur Mom

      Another name for them is "Tea-Partians" and "Indians" lol

      August 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jatanasio

    This is a perfect chance to get the general public of a middle eastern country on our side against terrorism. We helped Haiti with their earthquake and Indonesia with the tsunami, both with immense amounts of aide programs. There is no reason we should not help the Pakistani people. Not only will we be doing the world's largest amount of humanitarian work which every country can see, but we will be helping turn the minds of middle eastern people from the notion that Americans are greedy and evil. This really is a perfect chance for our nation, and unfortunately it had to come from a natural disaster.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • amust

      when did Pakistan became a middle eastern country. monsoon in middle eastern countries would be a dream come true.

      August 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jatanasio

      my bad, you are correct, its more south asia. But Pakistan has very close ties, including culture, with middle eastern countries. It is also predominantly Muslim country. So what I really meant to say was this would be a chance for our nation to support a predominantly Muslim country w/ close ties to middle eastern ones, thereby showing that section of the world we as American's can do good. And I wasn't suggesting a monsoon in Pakistan, but what happened there is a natural disaster like what happened in Indonesia

      August 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allaisax

      Fact is we did help Pakistan (BTW it is not a middle eastern country) when an earthquake struck in 2005 and killed some 100,000 people. Then we gave them billions of dollars in aid and caused IMF to lend them billions more on soft terms. Besides that many western countries wrote of billions owed by Pakistan. During the past five years what did Pakistan do to prepare itself for another natural calamity? Nothing, zilch, nada, not a thing. They diverted hundreds of millions of dallars to 'other' projects and spent BILLIONS of dollars to acquire modern weapons (F16s, Agosta subs, Perry class frigates, IL38 refuellers, T90 Tanks, Swedish reconnissance planes)

      So same thing will happen if we send them the aid. When it comes buying weapons they are not short of cash, when their President goes to London (yes he did after the floods) with a large entourage he spent millions of dollars on the trip. Then they send hundreds of thousands on Haj to Saudi Arabia (which country though stinking rich sent very little aid) spending millions.

      They have no shame in begging. Whatever aid we give will give to army or into the pockets of corrupt politicians.

      May if withhold aid this time perhaps they will learn a lesson and prepare themselves better.

      GOD helps those that help themselves.

      August 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      This is just another chance for us to give massive assistance and be hated for having so much that we're capable of giving it. I think I would rather just keep the money and be hated for that instead.

      August 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • jay

      It's true we send massive billions to people in need, but look at Haiti, what has been done?? where is the money??? Where are the people living??? They are a poor black backwater nation, strike one. They are of no political consequence, strike two, WE don't want them here, strike Three.

      But the other nations, our actual foes, who tell us one thing and do another, we send massive aid which is pilfered by the government, why?? Because we consider them a barrier to terror, but in reality, they are terror. Our government, regardless of who is in charge will need a sea change of great order to figure out what the average populace already knows.

      August 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • KrackJack

      @AMUST – When Pakistan converted itself from "Republic of Pakistan" to "Islamic Republic of Pakistan". Time line? A clue? Zia Ul Haq.

      August 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • dexter89

      Yes, Pakistan is considered to be on the southeast Asia and is not considered Middle East..Hey amurst you racist punk. Pakistan doesn't want to be considered to be in the middle east...Pakistanis are better than your middle east comrades...bum

      August 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Herry

    Its so sad for the innocent people.
    But their nation's reputation is working against them.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sunny

    thats right Heartless Pigs is the word....for all of them bunch of rocket scientists....

    August 17, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    2005 I was deployed to Pakistan with a MASH unit from the US Army in Germany. We went there and provided medical AID. Additional military AID was re-directed from Afghanistan, to Pakistan. Tax Payer Dollars that were used to fund a war in Afghanistan, were also redirected to Pakistan. These funds were probably hidden somewhere and buried in a whole lot of paperwork sitting in Washington DC right now. 10 Billion dollars is probably a lower figure than what we really contributed. We only went to Pakistan to help them, and to send in Special Forces everywhere looking for Osama. I am happy to say, this time I wont be going to Pakistan. Last time I was there for 6 months, and the Pakistan army treated us like a bunch of cattle. Our little compound consisted of the size of 3 football fields. They took our weapons from us, and we were left "trusting" the Pakistan amry as security. Screw that, I didn't feel safe at all. I need a drink.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • amust

      yes, TOM. i agree. let pakistan solve its own problem and INSHALLAH it will get solved and only by Pakistanis. whenever, there is foreign invlovment, unfortunately for Pakistan that means disaster. Pakistan did not have earthquakes/flood like this before, now Pakistan see what is happening every 3-4 years.

      August 17, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allaisax

      Pakistanis really dont care for the lives of their people. I was told after the 2005 earthquake, India offered 50 helicopters with the pilots for rescue. As you probably know it is the first 48 hours that matters in an earthquake. But Pakistan dithered becuase they said India is their enemy and so cannot allow them to overfly their territory and the earthquake victims be damned! If I remember correctly it took several days for NATO to marshal enough helis for the rescue and by then it became just a search and reovery mission.

      August 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • dexter89

      amust are you a customer service rep in bombay!

      August 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim F.

    For some reason, I cannot muster even the slightest sympathy for this cynical, destructive and dangerous nation. Having fomented troubles in so many countries, Pakistan has a good lesson that they are not indestructible. Finally their luck has run out. They can no longer dance at others' misfortunes. This time the joke is on them and everyone's having a good laugh.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dirty Paki

      When did we laugh at other's misfortune?

      August 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luis Castanheira

      I don't even trust them here

      August 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jetscreamer

    boohoo, cry me a river.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jetscreamer

    I would rather see drowing muslims than exploding muslims.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • dexter89

      you have some hatred problems dont you. Probably comes from your stupid idiotic family uprising...trash

      August 17, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
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