A donation drive headed by the Pakistan Association Dubai is under way to help millions of people who have been affected by the devastating floods in the country.
The organisation sent more than 42 tonnes of relief aid to the South Asian country at the weekend, but hundreds of UAE residents continue to donate to the cause.
The campaign is being carried out in partnership with the Dar Al Ber Society, with donations being collected and packed at Pakistan Association Dubai headquarters in the Oud Metha district.
Pakistan has received a record amount of rainfall over the past several weeks, triggering floods that have affected 33 million people and killed more than 1,300. With one third of the country now underwater, half a million people are living in tents.
Relief efforts by the Pakistan Association Dubai are currently focusing largely on accruing tents, dry food items, hygiene kits, blankets, towels and bedsheets.
“We’ve had a great response from the community so far. Lots of schools and corporations have reached out to us and want to join the campaign,” Faisal Ikram, president of the Pakistan Association Dubai, told The National.
“I was in Pakistan in the 2010 floods and I know the experience of these floods.
“I think this is a much bigger catastrophe than the 2010 floods. One third of the country is underwater and a lot of these areas are where people depend on crops or cattle for livelihood. It’s going to be a massive effort required to rebuild them.”
Dr Ikram expects that the donation drive will continue for another two or three months.
More than 200 residents across the UAE have volunteered to help with the campaign, including delivering and packing the relief items.
Abdulla Osama, 21, is one of the volunteers who has been turning up almost daily to pack clothes.
“I feel it’s my duty. What is happening in Pakistan right now is terrible. I want to help as much as I can,” he said.
“I’m happy to come every day and help where it is needed. I’m also very happy to see how many people are volunteering and donating. It’s a great community effort.”
The Pakistan Association Dubai is accepting donations from 9am to 9pm, and people have been coming in throughout the day, bringing in boxes filled with relief items.
Dhruv Bhatt is an Indian businessman who brought donations on Monday.
“I’ve brought non-perishables like rice and lentils. We’re trying to do as much as we can by collecting from families and friends,” he said.
“It’s really sad seeing the kind of events that are unfolding there. People are really struggling.”
Pupils from schools across the UAE have created their own packages for the victims, with handwritten notes and small stationary items.
Dr Ikram said that the next stage of the campaign would be to rebuild communities.
He said they are also collecting cash donations, which are routed through the Dar Al Ber charity, and will be mainly used for rebuilding infrastructure.
“Phase two will involve rebuilding houses that people have lost, villages, schools, small hospitals or dispensaries and mosques,” he said.
The UAE has been providing assistance to Pakistan since the floods struck.
On Saturday, hundreds of volunteers helped to pack thousands of urgent relief kids and food supplies.
The nationwide community event, called “We Stand Together”, was held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Dubai Expo City and Expo Centre in Sharjah.
By the end of the day, volunteers packed 1.2 tonnes of supplies into 30,000 boxes.
The food supplies included flour, rice, lentils, tomato paste and oil, while relief kits consisted of essential toiletries for women and children, such as diapers, sanitary pads and soaps.
The UAE is operating an air bridge to transport humanitarian aid.
On August 27, President Sheikh Mohamed ordered urgent aid be sent to Pakistan.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, also ordered aid worth Dh50 million ($13.6m) be delivered to the country.