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Kalat’s homeless brace for harsher winters

By Shehzad Baloch


Temperatures are rapidly going down in Kalat and Abdul Majeed and his family spend their nights in a tent without enough food or warm clothes.

He is a resident of Dasht Mugalzai village in Kalat. “My relatives are from the same village and they too are homeless. I have nowhere to go,” he told The Express Tribune by telephone.

It is better for Maulvi Abdul Rehman. He has relatives outside the village and moved out with his family from the tent provided by the provincial government. “The temperatures were rapidly dropping and we could not continue living in a tent,” Rehman said.

Kalat is one of the coldest cities in Balochistan where temperatures drop to 10 to 17 degrees below the freezing point during winters.

Most of the people affected by the floods in the district moved to their relatives in neighbouring towns and villages. There are 30 to 40 families still living in tents provided by the government and some non-governmental organisations.

Around 582 houses were completely damaged, while 2,168 houses were partially damaged when flash floods triggered by torrential rains hit the district earlier this month.

Provincial Disaster Management Authority sent only six trucks of relief goods to Kalat. The affected families claim the government provided insufficient food and other commodities. “Every family was given five kilogrammes of rice, two of pulses and some medicines. They were not enough for even a week,” said Mohammad Anwar from the same villages.

International aid organisations, such as the Red Crescent Society, said that although six districts have been badly affected, the devastation is not of a scale that needs massive relief operations.

“We have sent our teams for assessment. People have been homeless but not displaced. The government can cope with the situation,” a senior official from an aid agency said.

Gulzar Ahmed, a Quetta-based journalist, complained that the PPP-led government had not played its due role in the aftermath of the floods.

“There’s an army of ministers who do not seem to be interested in humanitarian issues,” Ahmed said. “The people are left at the mercy of God.”

As many as 14 districts were affected by the flash floods. Kalat, Khuzdar, Loralai, Jaffarabad, Pishin and Zhob were declared calamity-hit districts.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Provincial Disaster Management Authority Director-General Tahir Munir said: “We need resources and funds for rehabilitation.” He said that when President Asif Ali Zardari launched an appeal for donations to the international community it was only for the people affected in Sindh.

Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani raised this issue with the president and prime minister and they are reported to have promised to launch an appeal for the people in Balochistan soon.

History repeated itself for people in Balochistan where residents feel they have again been deprived. Journalist Nusrat Anka said: “Over 20,000 people stricken by last year’s floods still live in tent villages in Nasirabad, where the infrastructure is yet to be rebuilt; victims of Cyclone Phet in Gwadar are still living without shelter; those affected by the 2006 flash floods in Turbat were never compensated.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2011.

Faiz Baluch