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Living thousands of miles away, Calgary resident Ahmer Memon is constantly worried about families in Pakistan affected by the record-breaking floods that have wreaked havoc across the country.
“Every day, we spend half the day on the phone, asking about the well-being of our people there, how they are dealing with it,” said Memon, president of the Canadian Pakistan Association (PCA) Calgary.
A joint fundraiser started last weekend by PCA Calgary, Muslim Doctors International and the Islamic Relief Council raised nearly $50,000 in its first two days.
Pakistan floods — UN calls for $160 million in emergency aid
Memon, who is part of a large Pakistani community of about 35,000 people in Calgary, said the group would continue to raise funds to buy large quantities of medicine and other supplies such as large tents where families may need to stay for several months while rebuild. .
Weeks of unprecedented monsoon rains in Pakistan have killed more than 1,160 people and left millions homeless since mid-June.
More than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, have been affected by the catastrophic floods, which have devastated a country already trying to revive a struggling economy.
Memon, like many others in Canada, has been closely watching a crisis that has left more than a million homes damaged or destroyed in the past two and a half months.
“This flood didn’t discriminate between the poor and the rich because water was everywhere — roads and villages were cut off from food supplies,” he said.
Pakistan’s Calgary Community raises funds for flood relief
In addition to various online fundraisers and Canadian charities working in the field, Pakistani communities in Canada also collect donations at mosques and send them to their relatives via bank transfer.
Mississauga, Ontario resident Mohammed Saquib Shaikh, who is originally from Karachi, said family, friends and teachers from various parts of Pakistan had personally reached out to seek help.
There is an urgent need for clothing and food, he said.
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On the outskirts of the southern city of Karachi, one of the walls of her aunt’s house they helped build collapsed in the pouring rain. And the previous Tuesday morning, a friend from Balochistan said support in the province was lacking.
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“It’s absolutely devastating and sad to see,” the 35-year-old said.
On a personal level, the Shaykh tries to send money directly to those who need it most and reaches out to his Pakistani circles in Canada to do the same.
International aid for Pakistan
With an estimated $10 billion in losses to Pakistan’s economy, international aid efforts are underway.
On Monday, Canada announced $5 million in funding to help “step up” the humanitarian response. On Tuesday, the US government said it would provide $30 million in aid to help flood victims.
Canada announces $5 million funding to support Pakistan amid catastrophic floods
The United Nations and Pakistan issued calls Tuesday for $160 million in emergency funds to help flood victims.
Mahmood Qasim, who recently returned from flood-affected areas in Balochistan and Sindh provinces, said access to underdeveloped scattered communities was a major concern.
“The devastation is on a very, very large scale,” said Qasim, CEO of the International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF), a registered charity in Canada.
“Families are really displaced, they are losing livestock, they are homeless because a lot of them in the countryside live in mud houses and that also affects their livelihoods.”
Working closely with local teams in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Baluchistan and Sindh, IDRF is currently providing emergency food and kit boxes, which contain basic hygiene items, water filtration systems, sleeping and cooking kits, Qasim said.
So far, the nonprofit has allocated nearly $1 million.
“Everyone around the world needs to step up and help as much as we can.”
ICNA Relief Canada, which has local partners in Pakistan, is also assisting relief efforts in southwestern Balochistan, Sindh and eastern Punjab.
With about half a million dollars shipped, volunteers and staff on the ground are distributing water, medicine, safety kits and tents for temporary rehabilitation, said Syed Agha, senior director for coordination and administration at ICNA Relief Canada.
“This is a real disaster that we need to overcome,” said Mohammad Ijaz, president of ICNA Relief Canada, urging Canadians to donate generously.
With more monsoon rains expected and a lack of clean drinking water, concerns are also growing over mosquito-borne and water-borne diseases.
The National Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday warned emergency services to be on maximum alert, saying flooding over the next 24 hours could cause further damage.
— with files from Elissa Carpenter of Global News, The Associated Press
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