Christian Farmers Lose Land As Pakistan Floods Kill 1,000
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
ISLAMABAD (Worthy News) – Christian farmers have lost crops and livestock in Pakistan’s devastating floods that killed more than 1,000 people, aid workers told Worthy News.
Officials say this year’s flooding caused by monsoon rains affected more than 33 million people — one in seven Pakistanis — destroying or badly damaging nearly a million homes.
Minority Christians in the Islamic nation suffer, including Christian farmers in the southern state of Singh.
They are in “a state of deep shock and despair,” said Christian charity Barnabas Aid, also known as Barnabas Fund, citing local partners in the region. “It is poor Pakistani Christian farmers who have lost not only their crops but also their livestock in devastating floods, leaving them nothing but debts,” Barnabas Aid told Worthy News.
The misery of these Christian farmers comes while Muslim hardliners have attacked Christians for alleged blasphemy against Islam and the kidnappings of Christian women and girls.
One farmer, who was only identified as Samuel amid security concerns, grew cotton that he wanted to sell to support his family, but the floods made that impossible, Christians said.
KNOCKING ON DOOR
“On the night of August 17, his son knocked on the door to warn that the rising waters were threatening his crop,” Barnabas Aid recalled. “Father, son, and two other villagers tried all night to hold back the water, but it was impossible. In the early morning, they had to abandon their cotton field and their five goats, and the entire family fled to the city to save their own lives,” the charity added.
Their relatives were also struggling with flooding while Samuel’s mud-built house collapsed, and the goats died when their shelter collapsed on top of them, Barnabas Aid said.
“Like other poor Pakistani farmers, Samuel normally borrows money to buy the fertilizer, seeds, etc. that he needs, paying it back after harvest from the profits of what he sells,” the group added. “But how can he pay his debts when he has lost his entire crop? How can he rebuild his house? How can he even feed his family?” Barnabas Aid wondered.
“Samuel tried all night to save his cotton crop but could not stop the flood waters entering his field and destroying his livelihood.”
The annual monsoon rains have been exceptionally heavy in Sindh province this year, wreaking havoc in rural and urban areas.
“As so often, official government relief does not seem to reach Christians, who turn instead to their churches for help,” Barnabas Aid said.
“And the churches have turned to Barnabas Aid, asking for money to purchase desperately needed food, hygiene items, and medicines to deal with diarrhea, malaria, and dengue fever. Funds to repair their ruined homes will be required when the flood waters recede.l
The group said it wants to support 500 Christian families, including 54-year-old and other farming families, as well as 30 church pastors and their dependents.
“There could be many more in need because the floods are so bad that our project partners have not been able to reach some areas yet to find out their situation,” Barnabas Aid stressed.
Separately, Pope Francis said Sunday that he was praying “ for the numerous victims, for the wounded and those forced from their homes.”
The leader of more than a billion Catholics said he hopes that the “international solidarity might be prompt and generous.”
Pakistan has appealed for international help as the death toll in the South Asian nation continues to rise, including in Sindh.
MANY MOUNTAIN TRIBUTARIES
On Sunday, Sindh province braced for a fresh deluge from swollen rivers in the north, with more death and destruction expected.
Dozens of mountain tributaries feed the mighty Indus River that courses through Pakistan’s second-most populous region to the north.
But many have burst their banks following record rains and glacier melt.
Officials warned torrents of water would reach Sindh in the next few days, adding misery to millions already affected by the floods.
“Right now, Indus is in high flood,” said Aziz Soomro, the supervisor of a barrage that regulates the river’s flow near Sukkur.
The annual monsoon is essential for irrigating crops and replenishing lakes and dams across the Indian subcontinent, but it also brings destruction, prompting prayers.
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