MUZAFFARGARH: Millions of flood victims celebrated Eidul Fitr in donated tents and makeshift shelters on Saturday as the country’s leaders — criticised for an inadequate response to the disaster — pledged more aid.
The water has receded in many places, but remains head-high in others, forcing victims to stay outside their villages in camps or alone on roadsides.
Girls gathered at one camp near a power plant in the city of Muzaffargarh, sitting on a rug unfurled on the ground near the road as aid workers decorated their hands with intricate henna designs.
Their mothers, hovering behind, said even this small pleasure would soon be gone.
”We don’t have the happiness of Eid. What is the happiness?” said Amana Bibi, 25. ”We don’t have homes.”
Charities sent bags of gifts such as shiny plastic wrist bangles and candies to children displaced by the floods, which have affected some 18 million people.
The three-day festival is celebrated at the end of the fasting month of Ramazan. The festival begins when the first visible crescent of the new moon is spotted in the skies. Eid started Friday in Pakistan’s northwest and Saturday in most other parts of the country.
The government has been criticised by victims for its inability to deliver adequate aid.
”We will provide you financial help for rebuilding homes,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told survivors at a camp in Balochistan province, one of the hardest-hit regions. He also distributed gifts.
President Asif Ali Zardari, criticised for travelling to Britain and France as the crisis developed, was also planning to visit victims.