Highland woman leads flood relief efforts in Pakistan

A Black Island humanitarian is leading relief efforts in Pakistan as more than 1,200 people have died following devastating floods.

A third of the South Asian country has been submerged by water, leaving millions displaced and in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

More than 33 million people were affected by the natural disaster.

The monsoon is comparable to the devastating floods of 2010 – the deadliest in Pakistan’s history – which killed more than 2,000 people.

The UK government has so far offered £16.5million in lifesaving humanitarian aid to help provide shelter and essential supplies to people across Pakistan.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking”

Annabel Gerry, born in Dingwall, is the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office development manager for monsoon-affected Pakistan.

The 54-year-old from Munlochy is leading the UK’s response from the British Embassy in the country’s capital, Islamabad. She said time is running out to save lives.

A third of the South Asian country of Pakistan has been submerged by flooding, leaving millions displaced and in desperate need of aid.

She said: “UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was right when he called this disaster a ‘monsoon on steroids’ – it’s absolutely heartbreaking.

“The UK is proud to stand alongside Pakistan as a major humanitarian donor and we are working around the clock to deliver lifesaving aid to the most vulnerable.

“Tens of millions of people are affected, many of whom are left homeless and we are facing a race against time to save lives due to the high risk of the spread of waterborne diseases among displaced communities.”

Humanitarian aid continues to flow in from around the world as thousands of people face food shortages and displacement.

The show of support comes as forecasters predicted further rainfall in the coming days, leaving aid workers fearful of the impact it will have on a country that is already on its knees.

Experts estimate the floods caused at least £8.5billion in damage.

More than 1,200 people died when the monsoon hit the country.

Humanitarian at heart

The married mother of three was first inspired to help the world’s poorest on trips to see her grandmother in Kenya.

She explained how from the age of eight, she had the will to help people less fortunate than her.

She said: “My dad was born and raised in Kenya and I remember visiting my grandmother there when I was little and noticing the poverty.

“I remember going to the local market and seeing other girls my age helping their mothers sell vegetables and noticing that they had no shoes, no didn’t have nice clothes and they had never been to school. They may have walked miles to be there, as we drove home in Grandma’s car.

Annabel Gerry of Munlochy with Pakistani government ministers and officials.

“Even at eight years old, I felt it was wrong and I wanted to do something about it.”

As soon as Ms. Gerry left school, she took a year off to do voluntary humanitarian work in war-torn Sudan and Eritrea.

The 54-year-old has now swapped the Highlands of Scotland for South Asia.

Pakistan in crisis mode

Speaking from the trenches, she says the situation is heartbreaking as many people turn to life on the side of the road as they weather the storm.

She added: ‘Transport links are cut in too many places, with bridges washed away and an area the size of the UK under water.

“I have heard heartbreaking stories from many of our local partners about the challenges people are facing. Many people live along the roads in temporary shelters without even going to the toilet.

“In at least one case, our partner organization saw their office building largely washed away, making it very difficult for them to provide support to those in need in the community.”

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[Highland woman leading flood relief efforts in Pakistan]