Pakistan floods: ‘I’ve lost my house’

Pakistan floods: ‘I’ve lost my house’

Noor Zaidi and baby Saeed

Norwegian son Saeed urgently needs a blood transfusion because he contracted a serious form of malaria

“I can’t bear to see my baby suffer,” said Noor Zadi, holding 10-month-old Saeed Ahmed in her arms.

Just weeks after losing her home in the deadly floods in Pakistan, Noor is now terrified of her son.

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

When a doctor inserts a cannula into his tiny ankle and gently inserts a needle into his delicate skin, he screams in pain.

Saeed urgently needs a blood transfusion because he has contracted a severe form of malaria.

Norwegian family is one of thousands now facing a double burden. Health officials here in Sindh province – the worst affected region – say they have seen a dramatic spike in cases of malaria, dengue and diarrhea as displaced families live in the open next to standing water.

Saeed isn’t the only baby to receive life-saving treatment in the emergency room at Thatta District Hospital.

Seated on the other side of the same stretcher as Noor, another mother watches anxiously as her child is connected to an IV.

Almost all patients in this ward are young children, almost all of them suffer from flood-related illnesses, said Dr Ashfaque Ahmed, the hospital’s medical officer.

As he shows us around the ward, Dr. Ahmed told me that he is struggling with an acute shortage of medicines for malaria.

On the adjacent bed, a woman named Shaista lies motionless on her side. She is seven months pregnant and also comes from a flood-affected area. She is extremely unwell and is being transported to a larger hospital further away, says Dr Ahmed.

Every few minutes another patient arrives.

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

“My house was completely flooded,” he says, “I took her to the doctor at the camp where I’m staying, but they couldn’t help, so I came here.”

Ghulam Mustafa

Ghulam Mustafa took his granddaughter to hospital after a doctor was unable to treat her in a relief camp

Not everyone can go to a hospital. Half an hour’s drive away, we visit a camp in the Damdama area of ​​the province, which houses hundreds of thousands of flood refugees.

As we drive to the area, parts of the land are covered in water – the roofs of a few houses peeking out from below.

Along a riverbank we pass what looks like an endless row of makeshift tents, built with the most primitive means.

Poles hold pieces of fabric or leaves together to create a thin structure – barely enough to provide shelter from the intense heat, let alone the rain.

Many of the people who live here are young families, as we approach the camp several people come running up to us to ask if we are doctors.

Camping in Damdama

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

A woman carries her little boy in her arms, he has been running a fever for days and she doesn’t know what to do.

Under a simple tent we find Rashida and four of her seven children, who are unwell.

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

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

Rashida says she has received no food aid or a tent 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 bags that are not covered, but as far as I know the whole area is covered by rations,” he told the BBC.

As Rashida awaits the birth of her next child, those words offer little comfort.

Rashida

Rashida says she has received no food aid, nor a tent from the authorities

Officials say it could take months for the water level to drop.

She points over the swollen river and shows me where she once lived.

“Our house has been washed away. We have nothing.’

Map showing damage caused by monsoon rains

Map showing damage caused by monsoon rains

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