Aftermath of deadly flooding in Pakistan is 'absolutely heartbreaking,' Toronto-area residents say

·3 min read
'Pakistan does not contribute that much to the climate change that's happening right now … but Pakistan is one of the countries most affected by climate change,' Hasan Zia said on Saturday in Mississauga. (CBC - image credit)
'Pakistan does not contribute that much to the climate change that's happening right now … but Pakistan is one of the countries most affected by climate change,' Hasan Zia said on Saturday in Mississauga. (CBC - image credit)

The humanitarian situation in Pakistan weighed heavily on the minds of attendees at Saturday's Muslim Fest, held at Celebration Square in Mississauga.

Pakistani officials say flooding caused by an unprecedented monsoon season, and fuelled by climate change, is like nothing they have seen before.

About 33 million people in villages, towns and cities were caught off guard by the swiftness and power of the floods that have left hundreds dead.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking," Hasan Zia told CBC Toronto.

"I'm seeing people, they are from the same ethnicity, same background as me and they are affected. They're losing their homes, they're losing their family members, they're losing their brothers and sisters. It's gut-wrenching to think about it."

The United Nations children's agency said this week that more than three million children are in need of humanitarian assistance and are at heightened risk of diseases, drowning and malnutrition.

More than 90,000 diarrhea cases in one day were reported from one of the worst-hit southern provinces, Sindh, this week. Northern parts of the country are also running out of drinking water. Skin diseases and eye infections have been rampant.

"Those are people, it's not even their fault, it's because of climate change, because of melting glaciers and everything like that," Zia said.

"Pakistan does not contribute that much to the climate change that's happening right now … but Pakistan is one of the countries most affected by climate change."

'It's really tough'

Saima Sheikh is a national volunteer coordinator for Human Concern International (HCI) — a global charity founded in Canada in 1979. She says the situation is close to her heart, because while she was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, her roots are from Pakistan.

CBC
CBC

Sheikh said with one-third of the country underwater, the most vulnerable and the ones that are most severely impacted.

"It's unfortunate that the families that are already struggling are the ones that are struggling the most," Sheikh told CBC Toronto.

She said HCI is providing tents and food so that those affected can have "a little safe place to be for the meantime."

"There's a lot of work that's being done and we do have a team that's set up there that is working across all of Pakistan," Sheikh said.

"There are three provinces right now that are unfortunately underwater … so, it's really tough."

CBC
CBC

With thousands of people with Pakistani ancestry living in Canada, Fazeel Fahim says he hopes they do what they can to help.

"Being raised in Toronto and, you know, being in a place where you don't see much disasters … it truly is a blessing to be in a place where you don't have to really worry about certain things like what happens back home and like Sri Lanka," he said.

"So, to be able to actually help people that don't really have like the funds and stuff, it's like, it's an honour, you know? It feels like a privilege  and I feel like it is our duty when we are fortunate to help people that are less fortunate."