End of discrimination in flood relief, rehabilitation demanded

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Representatives of civil society and human rights organizations on Monday demanded the government to expedite rehabilitation work of flood-affected areas in Sindh and devise a transparent mechanism for the distribution of funds and overall relief and rehabilitation process.

Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club the civil society activists Muhammad Bakhsh Kapri, Chander Kumar, Shehzado Malik, Ali Hassan and Muhammad Rafique Leghari from Mirpurkhas, Ms. Anis Haroon and Chandan Malhi From NCHR and Naghma Iqtidar From TKF deplored that a large portion of the flood-affected population especially from minority communities have still not received any support from the government. The press conference was jointly organized by National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and The Knowledge Forum.

They demanded that the entire rehabilitation process should be free from political interference, favoritism and discrimination, said the participants. For this purpose, they suggested district and taluka-level committees should be formulated, they suggested. The members of these committees can be, Assistant Commissioner, Mukhtiarkar, CSO representatives, Community representatives and social activists.

They emphasize that keeping experience and the impending climate change in mind, climate-resilient structures/houses should be built like Bangladesh’s flood resilience infrastructure. Women-led households, orphans, differently-abled persons, transgender, and marginalized members of religious minorities should be prioritized in relief and rehabilitation efforts.

They said that Women and children at the flood relief camps are at higher risk of physical and sexual assault, they pointed out. The Sindh government should devise a Women’s Protection Policy which will not only work in current disasters but also in future catastrophes.

They said the government lacks authentic data about vulnerable people in Sindh. People who are at higher risk are Haris (agriculture workers), and scheduled castes such as Kholi Bheel and Bagaris. They often work at the farms of other landowners. Government should devise a mechanism to register all vulnerable communities in Sindh.