Floods in Pakistan: “I lost my home

Floods in Pakistan: “I lost my home

Noor Zaidi and baby Saeed

Noor’s son Saeed urgently needs a blood transfusion after contracting a severe form of malaria

“I can’t bear the sight of my baby suffering,” says Noor Zadi, as she holds 10-month-old Saeed Ahmed in her arms.

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

“We’re poor and we’re really worried about him,” she says.

As a doctor inserts a tube into his tiny ankle, gently pushing a needle into his sensitive skin, he screams in pain.

Said is in urgent need of a blood transfusion as he has contracted a severe form of malaria.

Noor’s family is one of thousands now facing a double burden. Health officials here in Sindh province – the hardest-hit region – say they have seen a dramatic increase in malaria, dengue and diarrhea cases as displaced families live in the countryside next to standing water.

Saeed is not the only baby receiving life-saving treatment at the Thatta District Hospital’s emergency ward.

Sitting on the other end of the same stretcher as Noor, another mother watches anxiously as her child is attached to an IV.

Almost all the patients in this ward are young children, almost all of them suffering from flood-related diseases, says Dr Ashfaque Ahmed, a doctor at the hospital.

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

In the next bed, a woman named Shaista lies motionless to the side. Seven months pregnant, and also from a flood-hit area, she is extremely unwell and is being taken to a bigger hospital further away, Dr Ahmed tells us.

Every few minutes another patient comes in.

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

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

Ghulam Mustafa

Ghulam Mustafa brought his granddaughter to hospital after a doctor was unable to treat her at a relief camp

Not everyone can go to a hospital. Half an hour away, we visit a camp in the province’s Damdama district, which has become home to hundreds of thousands of flood refugees.

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

Along a river bank we pass what looks like an endless series of makeshift tents, built by the most primitive means.

The 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, as we approach the camp many people run to ask us if we are doctors.

Camp at Damdama

Relief camps have become home to hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their homes in the floods

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

Underneath a main tent is where we find Rashida and four of her seven children, who are not well.

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

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

Rashida says she has not received any food aid or tents from the authorities. Others who 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 have not been covered, but as far as I know, the whole area has been covered by rations,” he told the BBC.

As Rashida awaits the birth of her next child, these words provide little comfort.

Rashida

Rashida says she has not received any food aid or tents from the authorities

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

Pointing to the swollen river, he shows me where he once lived.

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

Map showing damage caused by monsoon rains

Map showing damage caused by monsoon rains

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