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Faith-based and other relief efforts underway to assist Pakistan flood victims

‘The humanitarian situation is terrible and could deteriorate without immediate international intervention,’ said Asif Shirazi, Islamic Relief’s country director in Pakistan.

People displaced by flooding wait in a long line to receive food distributed by Pakistani army troops in a flood-hit area in the Rajanpur district of Punjab, Pakistan, Aug. 27, 2022. Officials say flash floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains across much of Pakistan have killed nearly 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more since mid-June. (AP Photo/Asim Tanveer)

(RNS) — Faith-based and other relief services are raising funds and providing emergency assistance to families in Pakistan, where record-breaking floods are estimated to have killed and injured thousands of people and destroyed large parts of the country, including homes and farmland. Millions have been impacted.

Islamic Relief USA — a nonprofit based in Alexandria, Virginia — has committed $340,000 toward the emergency response, with its country office hoping to reach 30,000 families in the hard-hit regions of Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the organization said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug. 30).

The nonprofit has provided 1,120 cash grants; 1,610 food packs containing flour, rice and oil; 1,070 hygiene kits; and hundreds of kitchen sets, and tents for shelter.

Asif Shirazi, Islamic Relief’s country director in Pakistan, recently visited affected communities in Balochistan and said the rainy season, which started earlier than usual in mid-June, took residents by surprise. Flooding destroyed schools, hospitals, roads and other properties, Shirazi said in the statement.

There’s also been an increase in diarrhea and other acute watery diseases, “and in the absence of a functional healthcare system, many people could lose their lives,” he said.

With thousands displaced, Shirazi said many live in makeshift tents or fragile old buildings “that could collapse at any moment.” He said the majority of residents are farmers who lost their lands and livestock to the floods.

“The humanitarian situation is terrible and could deteriorate without immediate international intervention,” according to Shirazi.

Homes are surrounded by floodwaters in Sohbat Pur city, a district of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. Disaster officials say nearly a half million people in Pakistan are crowded into camps after losing their homes in widespread flooding caused by unprecedented monsoon rains in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Zahid Hussain)

Homes are surrounded by floodwaters in Sohbat Pur city, a district of Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, Aug. 29, 2022. Disaster officials say nearly a half million people in Pakistan are crowded into camps after losing their homes in widespread flooding caused by unprecedented monsoon rains in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Zahid Hussain)

Megan Gilbert, a spokesperson with Catholic Relief Services, said her organization has set up a relief fund that went live on Tuesday. CRS will begin distributing funds by the end of the week and expects to provide immediate cash assistance to 2,300 families.

Gilbert said CRS is working with organizations such as the Community Development Foundation to do assessment in the hard-hit region of Balochistan.

Two Catholic Relief Services staff members are in Pakistan, she said.

“What they’re describing is total devastation,” Gilbert told Religion News Service. “For a lot of people, everything has been wiped away. People have lost their homes, their food, their livelihood. People lost a lot of livestock. Any planting has been washed away.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said.

Omar Suleiman. Courtesy photo

Omar Suleiman. Courtesy photo

Omar Suleiman, an Islamic scholar and founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, urged donations and assistance for the people of Pakistan. 

“The whole world needs to come together to help them through this, and do our part to not make the already vulnerable even more vulnerable with our neglect,” Suleiman said on Twitter

Suleiman, who is a columnist for RNS, included a link to Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a global humanitarian relief and development organization that has been a registered nongovernmental organization in Pakistan since 2005.

The organization has set up a fund where people can donate through its website. While any amount is accepted, the organization set up financial packages for donations. For example, a donation of $500 would fund flour, rice, lentils, sugar, tea, cooking oil, salt and clean water for 20 families. 

Helping Hand for Relief and Development has teams in Pakistan in the provinces of Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to provide food, nonperishable items, medical assistance, mobile water filtration services and dry rations, according to its website.

More than 45,000 residents across 16 districts have received assistance as of Aug. 24, the organization said.

The International Federation of Red Cross launched an emergency appeal to support Pakistan Red Crescent, a leading humanitarian organization in Pakistan. 

Through this emergency appeal, Pakistan Red Crescent aims to assist 324,040 people across the four most affected provinces. The organization is asking for donations to be able help those in need. 

Volunteers form an Islamic charity group prepares food packets to be send into flood-hit areas, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. Pakistan's government in an overnight appeal sought relief assistance from the international community for flood-affected people in this impoverished Islamic nation, as the exceptionally heavier monsoon rain in recent decades continued lashing various parts of the country, killing more people and raising the overall death toll from mid-June to 937. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

Volunteers from an Islamic charity group prepare food packets to be sent into flood-hit areas, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Aug. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

The Edhi Foundation, a social welfare organization based in Pakistan, has initiated a flood relief campaign and said its teams have been on the ground in all affected areas in Pakistan, “providing relief assistance including cooked food, dry ration packs, tarpaulin sheets, medical aid and other non-food essential items.”

The nonprofit Akhuwat in Pakistan spearheaded a cash assistance relief fund for flood victims across Pakistan. In the first phase, the organization said it is immediately providing cash support, ration bags and food distribution. It will then work to provide interest-free loans for up to five years to help rebuild homes, according to its website.

Khalsa Aid International, a U.K.-based humanitarian relief charity, said it has mobilized teams on the ground to assess the needs of flood victims, according to its website. The charity is also working with local and international suppliers to secure vital aid supplies. The organization, which is based upon the Sikh principle to “recognize the whole human race as one,” said it will be updating its relief efforts in the coming days and weeks. 

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