Toronto organizations raise funds, pack kits to help flood victims in Pakistan

Relief organizations in Toronto are working to provide aid to Pakistan where unprecedented flooding has displaced tens of millions of people.

Charities sending food packages, water purification units to flood ravaged areas

Mahmood Qasim, CEO of International Development and Relief Foundation, said: 'The situation on the ground is extremely grim.' (CBC)

Relief organizations in Toronto are working to provide aid to Pakistan where unprecedented flooding has displaced tens of millions of people.

International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF), a registered charity dedicated to empowering the world's disadvantaged people, is aiming to raise $3 million in donations for Pakistan and has delivered food packages to nearly 1,000 families. The charity has been operating in Canada since 1984.

Mahmood Qasim, CEO of IDRF, told CBC Toronto on Wednesday that he visited the hard hit areas of Pakistan, including the province of Balochistan, last week to assess the damage firsthand. He said there has been eight weeks of relentless rain.

"The situation on the ground is extremely grim," Qasim said.

"You can only imagine, as we drove through the cities in rural parts of Balochistan, miles and miles of earth just flattened where the homes have completely been demolished. Families are living in makeshift shelters that they've created out of whatever they could find."

According to a report by Reuters on Wednesday, the flooding has killed least 1,191 people, including 399 children, and a third of the country is submerged. The flooding has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. A report by the Associated Press says the floodwaters, fed by monsoon rains and melting glaciers, has affected more than 33 million people in the country, which has a population of 220 million.

Qasim said children have lost their parents. As the waters recede, people are facing food insecurity, a lack of access to clean drinking water, waterborne diseases, and no shelter, he added.

His relatives have told him that there has been no farming work for about two months.

"Global warming and climate change is not just affecting us here. It is affecting those communities that are very prone and susceptible and vulnerable to this climate change and we have to remember them and continue supporting them," he said.

Charity calls for $50M in federal relief for Pakistan

IDRF is urging the Canadian government to set up a $50-million Pakistan relief fund to support humanitarian efforts, including the provision of emergency kits and long-term rebuilding.

"By providing assistance to those international relief organizations, including IDRF, that currently have a strong footprint in Pakistan, we can most effectively combine efforts in this humanitarian crisis," the charity said in a news release on Monday.

Its food packages contain rice, sugar, chickpeas, tea and red beans.

Volunteers at GlobalMedic pack family emergency kits to send to Pakistan. Each kit includes a ceramic water filter, solar lights and hygiene items. (CBC)

GlobalMedic, a registered Canadian charity that provides emergency aid to people around the world, plans to ship 5,000 water purification units to Pakistan by the end of this week.

"This is a point of use water purification unit. Gravity fed, no moving parts, no electricity, super simple to put together," Rahul Singh, executive director of GlobalMedic, told CBC Toronto on Wednesday.

Volunteers are assembling family emergency kits at GlobalMedic's warehouse in Toronto and each kit includes a ceramic water filter, solar lights and hygiene items. The items are intended to provide families with simple access to clean drinking water, along with items that will help provide comfort.

"If these kids get acute watery diarrhea, or Cholera typhoid, or waterborne diseases, and they're out baking in the sun because of the heat and are in the floodwaters and they're already immunocompromised because they don't have enough food, because they've been displaced, these kids will die," Singh said.

Displaced families who fled their flood-hit homes take refuge in Shikarpur district of Sindh province, of Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. Officials in Pakistan raised concerns Wednesday over the spread of waterborne diseases among thousands of flood victims as flood waters from powerful monsoon rains began to recede in many parts of the country. (Fareed Khan/Associated Press)

In a news release on Tuesday, the United Nations issued what it is calling a flash appeal for $160 million to support its flood response plan.

"Pakistan is awash in suffering," UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message on Tuesday. 

"Millions are homeless, schools and health facilities have been destroyed, livelihoods are shattered, critical infrastructure wiped out, and people's hopes and dreams have washed away.  Every province of the country has been affected."

The Pakistan government estimates the economic damage to be about $10 billion, including destroyed bridges, roads and crops.

With files from Greg Ross, Muriel Draaisma and Martin Trainor