About one-third of Pakistan is now underwater as monsoon rains and flooding have caused the country’s worst flood in a decade.
Flooding has affected mostly the southern province of Sindh, Baluchistan, and regions of Punjab as Pakistan received three times its average rainfall for August. According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Agency, more than 1,300 people have been killed, over 400 of them children.
An estimated 33 million additional people have been affected or displaced since the rain and flooding began in mid-June. The rushing waters swept away houses and submerged entire fields of crops. Many displaced families are taking refuge wherever they can: government or NGO-run camps or makeshift shelters on the roadside. In areas where floodwaters have begun to recede there have been reports of water-borne diseases, according to the Associated Press.
“We are scared that the roof may collapse on us – it’s damaged,” a villager told the BBC. “Our children are getting sick and we’ve been sleeping on the floor – there aren’t beds for many of us.”
Christians in Pakistan have been affected by the flooding. The persecuted Christian minority resides throughout the country, with most living in the Punjab province, according to Open Doors.
Roman Catholic Bishop Samson Shukardin of the Sindh diocese told Catholic News Service: “I am receiving a lot of phone calls for help from my priests and people in various parishes of the diocese.”
“Ninety percent of the territory of my diocese is flooded due to heavy rain. Many churches, parish houses and schools have been damaged by the deluge,” he said. “It is indeed a sad time for the people of Pakistan as the country is facing a very challenging situation due to the heavy rains and flooding since July. The people are left homeless and hungry besides the families grieving for the loss of their loved ones.”
Christian leaders in Pakistan have called on all Pakistani citizens to come together and help each other. Many priests and pastors have reportedly opened their churches and offered supplies to those fleeing the flooding, according to UCA News.
Presbyterian pastor, Amjad Niamat, has reportedly opened a small relief camp, giving water, food and Christian reading materials to those affected by the flood.
“You can see the unease in the eyes of people who see biblical literature. Those who inquire are welcome to read these books for peace of mind as well as awareness of diseases. A few students took them for research. The camp has opened a new door for evangelism,” Pastor Niamat told UCA News. “We are getting phone calls for help from Hindu peasants in rural areas of Sindh province. The items will be taken to nomadic tribes next month.”
As the government and local communities distribute flood relief, it remains to be seen exactly how Christians will be uniquely affected. Open Doors reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic and Pakistan’s 2010 flooding, Christians were overlooked in the distribution of relief. Many Christians were told that they must convert to Islam to receive aid.
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Image: Kamal, eight months and suffering from dehydration and diarrhea, is carried through a section of water as his family struggles to make their way home through the flooded areas between the cities of Shikarpur and Jacobabad in the Sindh Province of Pakistan. (Photo Credit: Colin Crowley, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).