Floods in Pakistan: ‘I lost my house

Floods in Pakistan: ‘I lost my house

Noor Zaidi and baby Saeed

Noor’s son, Saeed, needs an urgent blood transfusion after contracting a severe form of malaria

“I can’t stand the sight of my baby,” says Noor Zadi, cradling 10-month-old Saeed Ahmed in her arms.

Just weeks after losing her home in Pakistan’s deadly floods, Noor now fears for her son.

“We are poor and we are worrying him,” she says.

When a doctor inserts a cannula into his tiny ankle, gently easing a needle into his delicate skin, he screams in pain.

Saeed needs an urgent blood transfusion, after contracting a severe form of malaria.

Noor’s family is one of thousands who now bear a double burden. Health officials here in Sindh province – the worst-hit region – say they have seen a dramatic spike in cases of malaria, dengue and diarrhoea, as displaced families live in the open near stagnant water.

Saeed is not the only child receiving life-saving treatment in the emergency ward of the Thatta District hospital.

Sitting on the other side of the same stretcher as Noor, another mother looks at her in distress with her baby attached to a drip.

Almost all the patients on this ward are young children, almost all suffering from flood-related illnesses, says Dr Ashfaque Ahmed, the hospital’s medical officer.

As he shows us around the ward, Dr Ahmed tells me that he is facing a severe shortage of anti-malarial drugs.

On the nearby bed, a woman named Shaista lies motionless on her side. Dr. Ahmed tells us that she is seven months pregnant, and also from a flood-affected area, she is very ill and is being transported to a hospital further away.

Another patient comes in every few minutes.

As Ghulam Mustafa enters the ward, his two-year-old granddaughter Saima clings tightly to his shoulders.

“My house was completely flooded,” he says, “I took her to the doctor in the camp where I’m staying but they couldn’t help, so I came here.”

Ghulam Mustafa

Ghulam Mustafa took his granddaughter to hospital when a doctor could not treat her at a relief camp

Not everyone can go to a hospital. Half an hour away, we visit a camp in the Damdama district of the province, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have now flooded.

As we drive towards the area, areas of land are covered in water – the roofs of some houses are peeking out below.

On the bank of a river we pass what seems like an endless series of makeshift tents, built with the most primitive means.

Sticks hold pieces of cloth, or leaves, together to create a flimsy structure – barely enough to provide shelter from the intense heat, let alone the rain.

Many of those who live here are young families, and as we approach the camp many people run up to us to ask if we are doctors.

Camp in Damdama

Relief camps are now in place for the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their homes due to the floods

A woman carries her young son in her arms, he has had a fever for days and does not know what to do.

Under a tent is where we find Rashida and four of her seven children, who are ill.

Eight months pregnant and worried about her unborn child, she says she has no money to take them to a doctor.

“They have a fever and are throwing up … many mosquitoes have bitten them. My children are crying for milk,” she says.

Rashida says she has not received any food aid, or a tent from the authorities. Others who have shared similar stories say they feel abandoned.

Dr Ghazanfar Qadri, a senior government official in Thatta, admitted there was a shortage of tents, but said food aid was being sent to as many areas as possible.

“There may be some pockets that are not covered, but to my knowledge the whole area is covered by rations,” he told the BBC.

As Rashida awaits the birth of her next child, those words bring her little comfort.

Richard

Rashida says she has not received any food aid, or a tent from the authorities

Officials say it could take months for the water levels to recede.

Pointing across the swollen river, she shows me where she once lived.

“Our house was washed away. We have nothing.”

A map showing the damage caused by monsoon rains

A map showing the damage caused by monsoon rains

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