Pakistan Needs Help—And CORE Is On The Ground Ready to Give It

Pakistan Hygiene Kit Packing And Distribution © 2022 Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE)/Liam Storrings

By Allie Murray

When torrential monsoon rains began in Pakistan in July 2022, CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) acted quickly, meeting with local leaders and partners to address the critical needs of those affected in the Sindh province. Now, some four months later, the region is still feeling the effects of the disaster—but working towards rebuilding with the help of the humanitarian organization.

CORE arrived on the ground in Karachi in September to outline a plan of action and determine what needed to be done. The team began distributing hygiene kits, feminine hygiene kits, mosquito nets, cash assistance, medical supplies, and dry food with the help of local organizations.

“The Pakistan floods are yet another example of the inequity of climate change and global aid, both of which are in need of a significant overhaul,” CORE Co-Founder and CEO Ann Lee said. “The most vulnerable communities have always been the most susceptible to bearing the brunt of disasters, and these disasters are increasing and intensifying due to climate change. These populations have a much lower carbon footprint than wealthier, industrialized nations but are viciously impacted by climate change. This inequity and the resulting negative impact will continue at an alarming rate unless we provide the necessary aid now.”

Photo © Courtesy of CORE

The organization, run by Sean Penn and Ann Lee, has responded to countless tragedies worldwide: most recently, the war in Ukraine. Similarly, the team has worked on the ground in New Orleans, Haiti, and Florida, among others.

CORE responds to crises immediately to fill gaps, mobilize resources, and establish trust and collaboration from within communities. Co-founder Sean Penn started the organization within hours of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. After feelings of frustration amid recovery efforts in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, he wanted to do more to help—and CORE was born.

The crisis in Pakistan has been astronomical, with more than 7.9 million people displaced, two million homes damaged or destroyed, and 1,600 confirmed fatalities. However, despite the crisis, support organizations have received minimal donations, and the tragedy in itself has seen limited media coverage.

Donations are critical to CORE’s ability to offer services in countries like Pakistan. As the fifth most populated country in the world, Pakistan is struggling to recover—leaving hundreds of thousands of people displaced and without access to clean water and food.

“The lack of aid being provided by the international community to Pakistan is a brutal repetition of an alarming historical pattern,” CORE VP of Programs Mathew Chandy explained. “We have worked in many emergency response efforts in the Caribbean, South America, India and the U.S. with Indigenous nations, and unfortunately those crises do not generate the news coverage, donations and global support on the same scale as Western/European, industrialized nations. We have seen this cycle repeat itself in Haiti and Puerto Rico. If we do not provide the much-needed support to help the Pakistani people to rebuild their communities now, we will inevitably face another disaster that will have more dire outcomes because we never fixed the infrastructure during these terribly destructive floods.”

In August, Pakistan received more than three times its usual rainfall, which according to ABC News, made it one of the area’s deadliest natural disasters in five decades. The Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said one-third of the country was underwater.

“We are at the moment at the ground zero of the front line of extreme weather events, in an unrelenting cascade of heatwaves, forest fires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake outbursts, flood events and now the monster monsoon of the decade is wrecking non-stop havoc throughout the country,” Rehman said.

According to EU data, Pakistan is responsible for less than one per cent of planet-warming global emissions but is ranked as the eighth most vulnerable nation to the effects of climate change.

As the toll from the floods continues to be assessed, Pakistani authorities estimate that rebuilding alone will cost more than 10 billion USD.

Among the concerns of shelter, food, and life-saving supplies, Pakistan is now also facing a malaria crisis. According to United Nations Pakistan, there were more than 44,000 reported cases of malaria in one week in September.

CORE continues to provide critical support to communities that have been devastated by the floods in Pakistan. After beginning relief efforts in the Sindh province, the organization continues to evaluate what the needs are on the ground, particularly for the most vulnerable communities.

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