KANDARO CAMP, Pakistan (Reuters) - Survivors of Pakistan’s worst-ever floods, which forced at least 10 million people from their homes, are desperate for money to rebuild their houses.
Failure to rehabilitate flood victims nearly two months after the disaster has the potential of triggering instability in a country which is fighting a full-blown Islamist insurgency and is crucial for the United States in its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.
“Please give us some money so that we can go home,” Jan Pari told senior U.N. officials who visited Kandaro Camp in Nowshera on Thursday.
Standing in the middle of scores of tents donated by the United Nations, the mother of three married sons said she and her entire extended family were homeless.
“We are getting food, but this is not our home,” said Pari, wrapped in a shawl as five of her grandchildren stared at the visitors. “We want to go back.”
Authorities have promised to pay 100,000 Pakistani rupees ($1,165) in compensation to each displaced family, but the need for the cash-strapped government to raise much of the billions of dollars for reconstruction will put the nation under strain for years.
Compensation to displaced families alone would be about $2 billion. The floods killed more than 1,750 people and caused up to $43 billion in damage.
The government says it will start disbursing the first installment of 20,000 rupees in compensation by the end of the month to encourage families to return home. But it has already missed one deadline for cash disbursement this month.
U.N officials said people should be able to return to normal lives.
“One of the issues that needs to be addressed is the condition of the returning of people to their villages,” Louis-Georges Arsenault, director of UNICEF’s Office of Emergency Programmes, told Reuters. ($1=85.91 Pakistani Rupee)
Additional reporting by Augustine Anthony; Editing by Chris Allbritton