Stories about relief camps

Stop blaming FATA and take responsibility for the IDPs, Pakistan

After months of dithering, the Pakistani government finally approved the long-awaited offensive against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) last week. The decision came in the wake of the audacious terrorist attack on the country’s largest airport that reportedly killed at least 29 people. While the decision is a welcome move, the way it was arrived at revealed the ‘reactive’ nature of and the laxity and arbitrariness associated with the country’s policy-making process. Given the existential threat it poses, terrorism should have been the foremost priority of the new government and therefore must have been dealt with in a more pro-active and robust way. Unfortunately, ...

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Assam violence: Is there a solution?

“I have been harping on the point that we should focus more on Assam,” I overheard a friend saying, when I entered the Press Club in Delhi. After a long day of hard work, I just wanted to catch up with friends and not discuss the raging issues of the world that we journalists so often do. With a cringe I approached the table that had seven people seated around it, with serious looks on their faces. “Can we talk about the weather, please?” My voice was sarcastic. “Yes! What do you people care about the Northeast?” came an uncompromising retort. Offended by ...

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What flood preparations?

Following predictions of heavy monsoon and subsequent flooding, the Sindh government has started planning for early recovery and relief by declaring emergency in nine sensitive districts. Relief camps are being set up, while ministers and officials concerned stated that “there is no prediction of floods; we have made all arrangements to mitigate the rain emergency”. Sindh has faced floods for the last two years amidst the same statements and promises made by responsible people of the government. Following these promises, the people of Sindh experienced much devastation. Every minister seems to have memorised the following statement: ‘for the last 10 years, ...

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Photo Essay: Surviving with a smile

I am a traveler. When I was six years old I was flying to the moon in a make-shift cardboard space ship now I travel to Rome, Marakesh and Indonesia in the span of one year. I try not only to immerse myself in a village, city or country but also its soul.  This week end for the first time in my life, I felt like I experienced the soul of Pakistan. At a camp in Sehwan Sharif for internally displaced persons (IDP) I witnessed need, desperation, anguish and pain but also laughter, smiles and gratitude. In the West we associate the ...

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Flood crisis: Descent into darkness

During our descent towards Sukkur Airport, all heads in the cabin peered over shoulders and towards the windows to catch a glimpse of the floods’ devastation. Gasps abounded as the Indus suddenly appeared below in placid, expansive pools engulfing everything that had once been land. All that was now visible was a shapeless, silver deluge shimmering in the evening sun, dotted occasionally by green treetops. Brown, rectangular roofs of what had once been homes or schools now lay empty, abandoned and completely lifeless. There wasn’t a figure around, not a soul visible from our vantage point in the air. ...

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Shabana’s baby didn’t have to die

Shabana, a resident of Jampur gave birth to baby boy on a charpoy kept beside the road, aided only by her mother-in-law. The women had no medicines and the environment was far from sterile. The new born only survived a few hours and now Shabana’s health is deteriorating every day. Despite the challenges her family stubbornly refuses to move to a camp simply because they don’t want to move any further away from the ruins of what was once their home. Unfortunately, the plight of expectant mothers in the flood zone has not been discussed enough. According to the World Health ...

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