The lack of attention surprised me, says TV 2’s reporter Kadafi Zaman.
– It is despairing
The images from the violent flood in Pakistan hit many Norwegian-Pakistani people hard.
– It is despairing. It affects everyone with a Pakistani background, regardless of where they are, says VG’s commentator Shazia Majid.
Close to 1,500 people have lost their lives in the flood.
TV 2’s reporter Kadafi Zaman has just returned home from a mission in Pakistan. He also covered the great flood in Pakistan in 2010. Nevertheless, he was surprised by the scale when he arrived in the country this time.
The material destruction was enormous. But it was the people, and not least the children, who made the strongest impression on the experienced reporter. Many had lost everything.
– Children who lie lifeless, who can’t bear to wave the flies away from their faces. Children who cry because they don’t get food and water. It hurts to see their suffering, says Zaman.
Demanding relief work
Damaged infrastructure makes it difficult to get food, water and medicine to people.
Several places in the country are still under water, which makes the relief work a huge logistical challenge.
– Much of the aid now comes to the cities and remains stuck there, or comes to places where people have gathered, for example tent camps. It does not reach the desolate areas that can only be reached by boat and helicopter, says Zaman.
The Norwegian-Pakistani community is now mobilizing widely to help the flood victims.
Shazia Majid says that the work started quickly. Among other things, 20 different fundraising campaigns have been set up on the fundraising service Spleis.
– There is an urge to help because we are as privileged as we are. The images are so unimaginable and the scale is so difficult to understand, says Majid.
Clothes and equipment are collected, and it is clear that the desire to help is great. Majid tells of a mosque in Oslo that had to say no to several donations because they had received too much equipment.
Zaman also feels that there is a lot of commitment, but that some people find it difficult to know who to give to in order to be sure that help will arrive.
He says that the aid effort in Pakistan sometimes appeared chaotic. No central and coordinated aid work exists.
– It is a country in deep political crisis. There is mistrust between the political parties, there is mistrust of the state, he explains.
Too little, too late
Norway has so far contributed NOK 80 million to the flood victims. It is too little, too late, says Majid.
– I think it is a feeling that many people, especially people of Pakistani origin, share, she says.
The need for money for reconstruction and emergency aid is enormous.
She says that neither the large aid organizations have received large amounts of money for the flood disaster nationally.
– It is a big problem that it is difficult to trust the authorities and know who to give to and not. But that cannot be a reason not to give, because what is the alternative for the Pakistanis?, she adds.
Modest media coverage
Majid believes that the media’s lack of coverage has a lot to say about the fact that the commitment is not as great throughout Norwegian society.
– I think the media play a role. What we write about and make journalism about plays a role in how society in Norway reacts to the disaster, says Majid.
Are there too many big news stories vying for attention at the same time?
– We are people from the press and know that things are boiling right now. There is war in Ukraine and we are very concerned about the energy crisis in Europe. And then the Queen of Great Britain dies. It takes up a lot of space in the media.
Zaman has received a lot of feedback from viewers and readers who are happy that TV 2 has been present in Pakistan.
He is surprised that the flood has received so little attention in the press overall. Not only because of the situation now, but also because of the consequences the world will see in the future.
Water-borne diseases spread in the dirty flood water will lead to a health crisis, he says. Then there will be a food crisis that will affect the whole country.
Much of the area under water is cultivated land, crops that should be ready in one to two months.
– They were supposed to feed these families, that was what they were supposed to live on. All that has now been washed away.
Not only the flood-affected areas will be affected by this. You see an enormous price increase throughout the country, says Zaman.
The worst is what is now to come, says Majid, and recalls that Pakistan was on the verge of bankruptcy before the flood came. Inflation is high.
– The situation is desperate for the Pakistanis. We are talking about 33 million people. Actually, 220 million people will be affected due to the high prices and food shortages that are coming.
The world economy will also be affected, says Majid. Pakistan is Asia’s fourth largest exporter of wheat. The country is also an important exporter of cotton.
A world which is already characterized by food shortages and a food crisis due to the war in Ukraine, will feel the consequences of the flood.
– We have learned from the pandemic and the energy crisis that we are not detached from what is happening in a country such as Pakistan, concludes Majid.
You can get the Norwegian state of affairs program on TV 2 Nyheter every Thursday at 17.30 and on TV 2 Play at any time.