13 August 2010

Nearly £20,000 raised in a week from Methodist Pakistan appeal

An appeal launched by the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) has raised nearly £20,000 in a week after devastating floods hit Pakistan.

The funds will help to support some of the people affected by the disaster, along with a £15,000 grant sent by the World Mission Fund to the Peshawar Diocese. The United Nations is warning of a second wave of death and disease and food shortages. Over 1,600 people have already died and 14 million have been affected by the flooding.

Authorities continue to evacuate people from their homes as heavy monsoon rains surge from north-west Pakistan into the south. There are reports of 2,000 villages being washed away in the Sindh province alone. Relief efforts have been hampered in some areas as flood waters destroyed roads and bridges and caused huge areas of forest to slide into villages, isolating thousands of survivors. Soldiers and aid workers struggled to reach them as helicopters were grounded and had to use donkeys to deliver vital aid to some regions.

Speaking of the deteriorating situation, Alla Calma, Deputy Director of Church World Service Pakistan's Disaster Management Programme, reported that: 'While the needs of affected people may be extensive, concerns about insufficient or no access to healthcare and sanitation facilities are also increasing. The longer people remain without shelter, food, and safe drinking water, the higher the risks are for illness.'

Donations to MRDF's appeal are helping to provide food packages to families in the Swat Valley and Kohistan Districts, some of the worst affected by the flooding. The packages include flour, rice, cooking oil and pulses. Gifts will also help to buy winterised tents and plastic sheets. Vulnerable families in the Swat Valley and Mansehra Districts will have access to medical attention, thanks in part to MRDF's appeal. Three mobile health clinics have been set up in these areas. MRDF is working through its emergency partner in the region, Action by Church Together (ACT) International.

The grant sent by the World Mission Fund is supporting an emergency Relief and Rescue programme for more than 1,300 families affected by the floods. The Diocese of Peshawar is putting all its efforts into reaching those still stranded by the floods and providing affected families with food.

Steve Pearce, World Church Partnership Coordinator, said: 'It is difficult to imagine suffering on this scale and in response we can only pray and support those who are offering physical help. I know Methodists will do both effectively. Our partner church in Peshawar is working with the Christian and Hindu minorities as well as the Muslim majority in the region and keeping in close contact with us. Please pray for Bishop Humphrey as he leads them.'

MRDF Director Kirsty Smith said: 'The torrential rains have had a catastrophic effect on so many communities. It looks likely to affect even more people in the long-term than those affected by the Asian tsunami. Our emergency fund gives us - and the people who have donated to it - the opportunity to provide swift and tangible assistance to people in the midst of this crisis. We are very grateful to everyone who has given, and we intend to support as many people as we can in the immediate and longer-term.'

To donate to MRDF's emergency fund, visit www.mrdf.org.uk, or call 020 7224 4814 to give by debit or credit card or by a cheque made payable to 'MRDF (Pakistan emergency)' and sent to MRDF, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR.

Taxpayers are encouraged to gift aid their donations where possible, adding 28p to every pound they give, at no extra personal cost.

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