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MSF working in Pakistan's flood-ravaged areas
July 17, 2007
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have visited several areas in Pakistan following floods caused by Cyclone Yemyin. The cyclone hit Pakistan with heavy rains and high winds on June 26.
MSF is running mobile clinics and distributing relief goods, including tents, blankets, hygiene kits, and emergency food supplies. On July 14, an MSF team began working in Barija, a remote area where no other aid organizations had been.
Immediately after floods were reported in Balochistan province, MSF contacted the government of Pakistan. However, the government did not grant permission to access the affected areas until July 5. Two MSF teams have since travelled to several areas where they found the majority of houses destroyed, but most public buildings still standing.
MSF provided emergency food supplies, blankets, plastic tubs and mugs to about 350 families in the village of Bagh Tel and treated 270 patients in one day, mostly for diarrhoea and skin infections. In the area of Magsi Shak, the team provided tents, plastic sheeting, cooking and hygiene kits, and emergency food supplies to 76 families who did not have proper shelter.
"The biggest problem is the roads," said Tom Roth, MSF head of mission in Pakistan. "Travelling by car is very difficult; one of our vehicles got stuck in the mud and it took hours to get it out. Many villages are still cut off, even after the water disappeared. Bridges and entire roads have vanished completely."
Large areas have been inundated with water, which means that crops are lost. Although there have been some deliveries of food to the affected districts, MSF teams are concerned about the ongoing food situation in the months to come, Roth said.
"In the areas we visited, which were the most affected, in Nasirabad and Jaffarabad, the people do have access to medical care," Roth said. "Therefore, we decided we should go to more remote areas where no one else has been so far, like Barija in Jhal Magsi district."
MSF has set up an emergency aid operation in Jhal Magsi district and will stay as long as there is a need, he said.