Most Seaview residents have covered their windows with protective sheets while taking their own precautionary measures against the cyclone. (Right) On the other hand, a large number of people evacuated from coastal areas and brought to a huge shelter home in Chashma Goth on Wednesday complained of shortage of food and other essentials.— Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Most Seaview residents have covered their windows with protective sheets while taking their own precautionary measures against the cyclone. (Right) On the other hand, a large number of people evacuated from coastal areas and brought to a huge shelter home in Chashma Goth on Wednesday complained of shortage of food and other essentials.— Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Many of the fisher folk community of Ibrahim Hyderi, specifically those at Chashma and Rehri Goths, already had displaced and evacuated extended families from Keti Bandar staying with them when they were also moved from their homes to the government shelters on Wednesday.

Tropical Cyclone Biparjoy is predicted to make landfall in the coastal areas of Keti Bunder, Thatta and Badin so the people there were the first ones to be moved out of harm’s way by the government.

Those who had families in the fishing villages of Karachi then came here to stay with them. But now they were also said to be under threat. So both the host families and their visiting families moved to the shelters.

The big shelter in Ibrahim Hyderi was just off the main road that takes you to Rehri Goth.

Say they are constantly seeing only ‘cameras’ but no food

The Tsunami Evacuation Shelter built there with the help of the United Nations Development Programme under the Strengthening Tsunami and Earthquake Preparedness in Coastal Areas of Pakistan Project was housing many families with lots of bewildered-looking young children, who seemed to be cranky, tired and hungry.

Every now and then some government official or politician would visit them and get their pictures taken and leave.

“These shelters have been built eight feet above the ground and God forbid if the area does get flooded, the water is expected to come up to four or five feet so the shelters are safer than these people’s homes at least,” said deputy commissioner of district Malir Irfan Salam Mirwani.

He said that he was supervising the evacuation of about 300 families from Jat Para at Chashma Goth.

“The families are compliant. Some have come here while some have decided to stay back, which we have also allowed because the situation, for now, looks under control. If things start looking dangerous weather-wise we will be resorting to mandatory evacuations,” he said.

Town chairman Ibrahim Hyderi Nazeer Bhutto, also there, said that he had been watching the situation in Ibrahim Hyderi since 2am.

“The people of this area are quite prepared for emergencies. We have also done our bit by explaining to them the threats and dangers along with the safety measures to be taken in any untoward situation,” he said adding that they had more shelters besides that one on higher grounds.

“There is another such shelter at a higher point in Ali Brohi Goth. We have also vacated a school building in Ilyas Goth along with a building in our nearby Cattle Colony and Sherpao village. So we have a capacity of around 4,000 people,” he said.

Meanwhile, the people at the shelter were complaining of not being offered any food since they arrived there. “Our children are hungry and thirsty,” said Hanifa of Chashma Goth.

“We are constantly seeing cameras thrust into our faces since we arrived here this morning. Our children are miserable and crying. They are hungry,” said Sughra, also from Chashma Goth.

“We came here from Keti Bandar to stay without relatives. Now we are here with them. When we came here we felt grateful for their hospitality. They cooked dinner for us but after that we had to come here where we had nothing to eat. Leave alone food, there is no water either. Are we expected to drink the flood water?” Asked another woman, who said her name was Nadrri.

Gul Bano, who said that they arrived here in three pickup trucks from Keti Bandar a day ago, were hoping to be presented with some relief in the form of a little money as their home was flooded with water. “But here we are not even getting any food,” she cried.

“Look, we are upset because our children are miserable. We have been brought here by the government to show that they are doing good work by getting us to safer areas but they in fact don’t care about us,” said Mohammed Sulaiman, a community elder.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2023

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