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Double catastrophe hits Pakistan’s Swat Valley

By August 4, 2010

Pakistan (MNN) — Pakistan issued fresh flood warnings yesterday,
bracing for more bad weather and waterborne disease. 

In what's being called the worst flood in 80 years, over three million people lost their homes,
and relief work has been delayed by swamped roads, washed-out bridges and
downed communication lines.

Although the Taliban suspended attacks in the Swat Valley,
unrest is beginning because of a conditions disrupting emergency food response.

Worse yet, the food aid needs aren't likely to abate soon. Punjab
is home to most of Pakistan's largest farms. The loss of so many crops was one reason for
the estimates of nearly two million Pakistanis needing food assistance for at
least the next month.

No stranger to loss, the people in this region were only
just recovering from the conflict that forced them from their homes last year
when the North West Frontier Province passed a bill that supported
the"Talibanization" of Pakistan. The law gives a watchdog group the
power to reform the society in accordance to "Islamic values." It was a bid for peace that failed. 

Voice of the Martyrs USA's Todd Nettleton explains that's
why this double catastrophe is especially hard on the vulnerable poor–in this
case, the Christians. "The Christians in
this part of Pakistan face the extra challenge of being Christians in an area
that is dominated by a very devout form of Islam, that at times, has been
welcoming to al Qaeda and not welcoming to Christians." 

Nettleton says the disparity they face came to the forefront
during the evacuation effort out of Swat Valley last year. 

The government was accused of unequal treatment as they
helped people get out to safety. "They
asked people to identify themselves, show their ID cards, and then Muslims were
given more help to get out of the area than Christians were." 

Nettleton adds, "Here we are in this situation with the
flood, and we pray that that's not the situation that Christians will face this
time, where the government favors Muslims in the distribution of aid."

Christians have been experiencing more tensions recently
from militant Islamic groups, including imprisonment, torture and even death.
Many Pakistani believers have been falsely accused under the Blasphemy Law.

The Voice of the Martyrs already supports persecuted
believers in Pakistan with resources. "We distribute Action Packs in Pakistan. I
would imagine that our office there is already setting aside Action Packs to go
specifically into this area, once the roads are passable again." In this case, many people lost all of their
belongings in the flash flooding.

More will need to be done. Nettleton says, "We are looking at that situation. It may be something
where we can't respond immediately, but we'll be able to respond in the weeks
and months to come, as these Christian brothers and sisters are rebuilding their
lives."

The challenge of starting over can be daunting for
church planters and church workers. However,
Nettleton believes that the disaster won't keep their partners down for long. "I think this can be a time of outreach, and a
time of growth in the church. I believe that comes with Christian people going,
ministering, and getting their hands dirty to help in what ‘s really a
desperate situation." 

Pray for believers who have lost their homes and livestock.
Ask God to provide for and encourage them.  Click here to help.

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