Humanitarian crisis feared in G-B

ISLAMABAD - A humanitarian crisis is feared in the Gilgit-Baltistan, as continues rains and land sliding disconnected the area from rest of the country, which resulted in shortage of food there.
The Awami Workers Party has urged the federal government and the government of Gilgit-Baltistan to take immediate steps for saving lives and livelihood of the thousands of people in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The party said that the authorities’ lacklustre emergency response so far reflected the government’s uncaring and exploitative attitude towards the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Over a hundred have been killed by the rains and landslides in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
However, a disaster of a much larger magnitude looms large due to land transport routes to the mountainous region being cut off by landslides and local supplies quickly dwindling.
“The federal government loves to show photographs of the mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan in its tourist brochures but pays little attention to the plight of the people who live in these areas,” said Nusrat Hussain, Secretary General of AWP’s Islamabad-Rawalpindi district committee and a native of Gilgit-Baltistan. “For too long the region has been treated like a colony by the state and now is the time for it to act to save lives, or face the wrath of the people,” he added.
Many educational institutions, including the Karakoram International University, have been forced to shut down due to a lack of fuel, while the price of flour and other food items have sky-rocketed due to the supply shortage.
In some areas, such as in Nagar, locals have resorted to clearing the roads on their own and transporting the injured on their backs, as help from the authorities is nowhere in sight.
The AWP called for the authorities to urgently devote more resources to clearing the roads, delivering fuel supplies, food, and medical aid, before the situation gets worse than it already is. He also urged the national media to give more attention to the imminent disaster in the region.
It said that in 2014, Baba Jan, a leader of the AWP in Gilgit-Baltistan, was sentenced by an anti-terrorist court to life imprisonment along with eleven other activists for his role in campaigning for the rights of the families whose homes were destroyed by the devastating Attabad landslide of January 2010.
On Saturday, landslides and flash floods added to the miseries of people in Gilgit-Baltistan causing the death of two women who were hit by rocks after a landslide. The Met Office on Tuesday predicted more rains in the area in next 24 hours.
Torrential rains and massive landslides have been battering the region for the last one week and the area is virtually disconnected with the rest of the country. Shortage of medicines and food items has deteriorated due to blockage of road links.
The opposition parties have criticised the federal and GB administration for not taking the situation seriously. Leader of Opposition in G-B Legislative Assembly Haji Shah Baig said that food stock in various areas have already been consumed and there was a fear of starvation.
A local social worker Wilayat Ali told The Nation on telephone that there is severe shortage of food in markets, adding people are using what they had at their homes but it is depleting fast. He said that owing to closure of road network, diesel supplies are also drying up fast.
Like food, diesel is also rarely available, movement is restricted and patients cannot reach hospitals, Ali said, adding, around 70 per cent of population lives in villages.
According to locals Karakorum Highway KKH, which links the northern areas with rest of the country, has been damaged at 175 points due to heavy land sliding.
Rains have affected many districts, including Skardu, Ghanche, Gilgit, Ghizer, Astore, Diamer and Hunza Nagar of G-B.
According to reports, Frontier Works Organisation has cleared the highway at some places but it is still blocked at various points.
According to reports, relief operation is in full swing. Army through its two C-130 flights airlifted one hundred and forty passengers stranded due to blockade of roads in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Director General GB Disaster Management Authority Syed Abdul Waheed Shah told media that relief items, including tents, blankets, tarpaulin sheets and food pack have been distributed among rain affectees in Ghizer.
According to officials work is in progress on fast track and the highway between Gilgit and Hunza has been restored. However, they feared that due to continuous rains, it may take long time to restore the KKH fully.

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