Reassessing the affectees’ needs

Editorial Daily Times

It cannot be stressed enough just how important it is for the whole nation to come together and do all it can for those affected by the massive earthquake that struck Balochistan and some parts of Sindh last week. The hardest hit by the natural calamity is the district of Awaran in Balochistan, which has seen most of its already inadequate infrastructure destroyed by the quake. Remote areas like Awaran are not only the most affected but are also the most difficult to access and communicate with. This translates into logistical obstacles and sluggish relief response. The government’s efforts are improving ever so slightly. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has set up a relief fund for donations locally and internationally and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has set up 11,600 shelters and is dispatching food and other items to those most in need. However, on-ground reports tell of assistance being too little, too late because of the difficulty in accessing the places most wrecked. The death toll has climbed to 400 in Awaran because of slow relief efforts. Much more needs to be done and time is running out for all those who do not have water to drink, food to eat and a roof to sleep under. International and local NGOs have been denied free access to provide the much-needed relief, which is a matter of life or death for the affectees. Only now, one week after the quake, have some convoys belonging to local NGOs been allowed to enter Awaran to distribute whatever goods they have. The situation is so dire that even NGOs cannot handle the relief operations by themselves. It is imperative that the government and these aid organisations/NGOs work together to make sure aid reaches everyone who has been affected. It must be remembered that the reports that are emerging from the calamity struck areas are only the tip of the iceberg considering how damaged all communication networks are.

Reports of insurgents hampering relief efforts are emerging but they are unsubstantiated. The area of Awaran, most hard hit by the quake, is the home territory of Dr Allah Nazar, leader of the Baloch Liberation Front. He has stated that relief agencies are welcome to help the affectees as much as possible but that they were not willing to allow the Frontier Corps (FC) and security forces into the area to help. This is because the people there are claiming that the FC, under the guise of relief work, are still carrying out the nefarious activities they have been suspected of for a long time, i.e. kill and dump. Under these circumstances, to be further insensitive to the miseries being suffered by the Baloch, to hamper relief work by international agencies and to send in the military and FC to ‘help’ is only making their ordeal worse because they feel as if they have to look over their shoulder even in the worst of times. This is truly a case of misplaced emphasis and must see the government reassess its operations for the affectees so that maximum relief is provided without room for other agendas. (Courtesy : Daily Times )

Republished in The Balochistan Point on September 30, 2013

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