By **Fatima Bhutto**
As Pakistan’s floods continue to rage, there seems to be no respite from the natural disaster compounded by poor infrastructure, corrupt and inept leadership and what Amnesty International USA is calling a ‘crisis of empathy.’
This weekend, Pakistan’s government assured Washington that our nation’s troops charged with aiding the War on Terror effort in the northern parts of the country would not be redeployed to bolster the relief effort as estimates now place the number of affected Pakistanis at twenty million.
One-fifth of our land is submerged, upwards of two million acres of land in Pakistan’s food belt destroyed, thousands of livestock and the threat of a cholera epidemic looming. The UN estimates that 3.5 million children are at risk of contracting fatal water borne diseases, such as dysentery and diarrhea; the World Heath Organization places the number of at risk children at six million.
In the southern city of Sukkar alone, four million people have been displaced and the agricultural southern province of Sindh has been described as the worst hit area. Pakistan has grappled with food inflation for the past three years; as food prices rise sharply and the summer’s crop is destroyed by the waters, millions of Pakistanis are in desperate need of food aid.
Five hundred thousand pregnant women, conservative estimates say, are among the most desperate of flood survivors.
Merlin USA provides medical relief work and has operated across Pakistan, including the tribal regions, since 2005. Merlin provides emergency health care, mobile medical units and antenatal care and also works in Sudan, Haiti, and Afghanistan. Please visit their site site and give what you can.
Copyright 2010 Fatima Bhutto
Fatima Bhutto writes for the New Statesman and the Daily Beast. Her book Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir was published by Nation Books in September. She is a niece of Benazir Bhutto, who was married to Asif Ali Zardari.