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Southampton's Pakistani community are praying for support following flooding
ALL they can do is watch and wait as the scale of the humanitarian disaster unfolds in front of the world.
Families and whole communities have literally been washed away in the Pakistani floods, while the relief effort to help survivors appears unable to match the magnitude of need.
While the international community is being called upon to do more, the feeling among the Pakistani community in Southampton is one of helplessness, because for them the nightmare is real.
It is their loved ones thousands of miles away who have been lost and their families who are now struggling to survive.
They are constantly monitoring the news for any shred of information – all they can do is pray.
Visiting the Abu Bakr Mosque, in Argyle Road, St Mary’s, is Parvez Khan, 50, who knows that many of his 150 extended family may well have fallen victim to the disaster after their village Choki, near Peshawar, was washed away.
Having no direct contact with them, he is reliant on scant information from other relatives who live 40 miles from the disaster.
“All we know is that they don’t have enough food, medicine, fresh water or clothes and all their stuff is gone,”
His desperate struggle for information is mirrored by many who worship at the mosque, where members have strong links to the worst affected Swat valley.
Ashraf Khan, 35, of Cedar Road, Portswood, said that family friend Mauraqib Khan and his family, living in Pirsabak, north-west Pakistan, lost their home in the floods two weeks ago, along with their cattle and crops.
He knows that the men have already returned to the village to try to salvage what they can, but must begin their livelihood from scratch.
“They say ‘we only survived, everything else is gone’,” said Mr Khan.
More than 1,600 people have died in the flooding, but a further 20 million people have been left homeless, with more rain expected.
Concern is growing for survivors after the United Nations confirmed the first case of cholera. Pressure is growing for the international community to dig deeper to help those who are now struggling for survival.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday called the international response to the crisis “absolutely pitiful”.
Now the Pakistani community is rallying to help the thousands of people affected.
Worshippers across the city’s five mosques have been donating for the past two weeks.
Mohammad Adrees, chairman of the Abu Bakr Mosque, which has raised £2,500 in donations, said that the disaster was unprecedented.
He said: “Here you can raise money for cats and dogs, but human beings are dying for food in our country.”
He feels that the blame for the lack of international aid lies with the Pakistani government for not declaring an emergency early enough to get help.
Mohammad Aslam, from the Medina Mosque Trust, which has raised £3,000, said: “All we can do is thank God that we’re lucky and share whatever burden we can by helping them to the best of our ability.”
Special prayers have been said for those affected by the disaster, while a fundraising dinner is being organised by the Muslim Council in Southampton. Some of the money raised will be passed on to charity Islamic Relief, but one thing is made clear – people here want to make sure that the money goes straight to those who desperately need it.
■ What are you doing to raise money for the appeal? Call Emma Streatfield on 023 80424 500 or email email@example.com.
How to donate
SOUTHAMPTON residents can donate to the local appeal by visiting the Abu Bakr Mosque, in Argyle Road, St Mary’s, or calling 023 80634 508.
British people have so far raised £15m for the Pakistan Floods Appeal. However, charities are calling for more support to pay for much needed aid.
To make a donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal, you can call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, visit http://www.dec.org.uk, or donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank.
People can also donate £5 by texting the word GIVE to 70707.
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