Kashmir’s moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq has requested OIC to send a fact finding team, fly doctors and manage emergency requirements of the flood hit Kashmir.
Hurriyat (M) has released the letter that the cleric has sent to the OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani. The letter has detailed the magnitude of the crisis and consequences of it especially when the frosty winter is approaching fast. The copy of the letter has gone to the member countries of the OIC’s Contact Group on Kashmir which includes Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Niger. Mirwaiz has been the lone separatist leader who has been attending the OIC meetings frequently.
Here is the text of the letter:
To H.E. Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani,
Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
Assalaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatuhu,
On behalf of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, I would like to convey our deep gratitude for the OIC’s continuous political, diplomatic and moral support to Kashmir’s struggle for freedom. We expect that the OIC’s solidarity will always be there in future and that it will intensify its efforts and strengthen its vocal advocacy for a just and lasting solution to the Kashmir Dispute based on the Kashmiri people’s right of self-determination.
Today, I would like to brief you on a matter of grave humanitarian concern – the latest situation caused by the devastating floods in Jammu & Kashmir, which are the worst floods to hit in over 100 years. The enormity of the damage cause by the floods is unprecedented and, as a result, today the people of Kashmir are confronted by severe hardships and are in need of urgent international assistance to meet immediate humanitarian needs and will also need international support for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.
Given that many areas here in Kashmir are still inundated and communication and connectivity has been badly disrupted, it will still take some time to arrive at an exact humanitarian needs assessment and a complete understanding of the total extent of damage and the overall social and economic impact of this disaster. However, we are able to share some information that can give you a preliminary assessment of the immediate humanitarian crisis we are facing along with some information about the colossal set of challenges that the people of Kashmir will have to overcome in the process of rebuilding and rehabilitation.
While thankfully the loss of life has been small (280+ deaths), the floods have left behind a humanitarian disaster and tragedy that is very hard to describe and put into words. One must really visit Kashmir to truly understand what has happened and how people’s lives have been tragically impacted. The floods have affected an estimated 10 million+ people living in 15 districts of Jammu & Kashmir. Entire sections of the densely populated capital city of Srinagar – the main urban center and economic hub of the Kashmir Valley – have been totally submerged and an estimated 350-450 villages have faced a similar fate. In total, the floods have affected more than 2600 villages in Jammu & Kashmir. An estimated 1.4 million people have been severely affected by the floods and have lost their household assets, livelihoods and are faced with the psychosocial impact of the disaster. An estimated 67,000+ houses are completely damaged and an estimated 540,000+ people have been displaced as a result of the flooding and shelter damage. More than 55,000+ people have been forced to take shelter in temporary relief camps that have been set up by various community and volunteer organizations in Kashmir.
Preliminary estimates by various economic and technical experts indicate that the damages are between 87,000 to 100,000 crore rupees (i.e. US $14.3 to $16.4 billion) – more than 100% of Jammu & Kashmir’s total GDP. Some reports suggest that the overall damages could be more than twice the state’s GDP. The floods have completely devastated the agriculture and horticulture sectors and every sector of Kashmir’s economy has been severely hit. Thousands upon thousands of people have lost their livelihoods, which will make it that much more difficult for them to piece their lives back together and take care of their families.
In addition to the damage to private infrastructure, public infrastructure like schools, hospitals, roads and bridges have been devastated. Of particular concern is the devastation to the Kashmir Valley’s health infrastructure. Four major hospitals in Srinagar were flooded and in some of the hospitals, their vital medical equipment and live-saving machinery was completely destroyed. There is not only an immediate health crisis looming and increased risks for epidemics at present, but there is deep concern about the enduring impacts. The floods have left the public health sector in a deplorable state. If the hospitals and public health sector is not rehabilitated, the more than 7 million population of the Kashmir Valley will face serious problems with obtaining medical care in the future.
Overall, this is a deeply worrisome situation – especially keeping in mind the existing vulnerabilities and the difficulties Kashmiris have had to face over the past many decades as a result of the conflict.
As winter fast approaches, thousands of Kashmiris are right now struggling to address their immediate shelter and survival needs. For those who lost their homes completely, there is no way they can rebuild their homes in such a short period of time. Given the scale of the disaster, local funds and capacities in Kashmir are insufficient to address these urgent humanitarian needs on the ground. Neither will it be possible for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts to succeed without international support.
In this dire moment of need, we look to the OIC and all OIC Member States for its support and solidarity. We urgently request you and the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir to exercise your leadership, to leverage your cooperation and to mobilize and pool your collective resources.
Therefore, on behalf of the people of Kashmir, I appeal to the OIC leadership and the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Niger to come forward to help the people of Kashmir deal with the situation that has arisen in the aftermath of the ravaging floods.
In this direction, we humbly request you to:
1) Send a fact-finding mission/missions to Kashmir as soon as possible to understand the needs/situation on ground and to identify and work out viable modalities for providing support to the humanitarian and reconstruction/rehabilitation efforts. OIC Member States with embassies in New Delhi could form a joint team and organize a visit of their diplomats to Kashmir.
2) Convene a Donor Conference for Kashmir of OIC Member States, UN Agencies and other International Organizations, including the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, and the Islamic Development Bank, other international donors, NGOs, Private Foundations and corporations. Through this Donor Conference, the OIC could formulate a joint strategy on how best to provide support to humanitarian and reconstruction/rehabilitation efforts in Kashmir and seek the donor pledges and form the partnerships that will be needed for this.
We hope that the Government of India will not hinder international humanitarian aid and support from reaching Kashmiris and we trust that the OIC can work out whatever arrangements/modalities are required to ensure that assistance and support effectively reaches Kashmir.
With regards to the specific humanitarian and reconstruction / rehabilitation support needed, we would put forward the following suggestions for consideration:
– OIC and OIC Member States’ support for emergency aid efforts to address the immediate humanitarian assistance needs in Kashmir over the coming months, particularly efforts to address shelter, water and sanitation, food, and health needs through the coming winter.
– OIC and OIC Member States’ support for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Kashmir, particularly in the area of housing, livelihoods/jobs and support to rebuild and significantly improve Kashmir’s hospitals and health infrastructure.
– OIC and OIC Member States’ support efforts to improve Disaster Preparedness and local disaster response capacities in Kashmir, including a focus on Disaster Risk Reduction. The current flood disaster has exposed how terribly prepared Kashmir is to face various natural disasters. Given the fact that Kashmir is in a highly active seismic zone and is at risk for a repetition of flooding and other Climate-related catastrophic events, we will need longer-term help to address these issues.
I must share that one positive that has emerged in this period of crisis, has been the courageous and valiant spirit of resilience, togetherness and helpfulness that has been visibly displayed by the people of Kashmir. In particular, the youth of Kashmir have stepped forward to help the community in both rescue and local relief efforts. With the help of the OIC and OIC Member States, we are sure that Kashmir will recover and will emerge stronger from this tragedy, Insha Allah.
Due to the current flood situation and the non-availability of travel documents, I regret that I was not able to brief you on this situation and put forward this urgent appeal for assistance in person during your deliberations in New York this week. However, we trust that you will give careful consideration to our appeal and do whatever is in the capacity of OIC and OIC Member States to respond.
We stand ready to provide any additional information needed and to provide any assistance that we can to help the OIC to respond.
We eagerly await your response.
Your Brother in Islam,
Dated: September 24, 2014