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Flood-hit Pakistanis face a difficult Ramadan

Flood-hit Pakistanis face a difficult Ramadan
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They are hungry and homeless at the start of the most sacred month for Islam. But despite their suffering, millions of flood-hit Pakistanis are still observing Ramadan.

People with poor nutrition are not best suited to fast from dawn to dusk.

With nothing but water to start his first day of fasting at a makeshift shelter in Dera Ismail Khan in northern Pakistan, flood victim Inyatullah Khan said: “God knows how we will break it.”

On the eve of Ramadan, desperate survivors in Nowshera scuffled to get their hands on bags of rice and flour, as relief supplies were distributed. With hours of daylight fasting ahead and not enough food to go round, there was fierce competition to have something to eat at sunset.

Many accused the government of an inadequate response.

‘‘Ramadan is here and we have received nothing,” said one woman. “What are we going to eat for the breaking of the fast? What will we eat before the fast begins? Like this, most of us end up getting nothing. The government should come and hand out aid in a proper manner.”

Flood victims have found a temporary home in a college in the city of Multan in Punjab province. But with facilities at a minimum, Ramadan has not started as planned.

“I am sad to miss the first day of fasting,” said Ghullam Fareed, one of those taking shelter there. “I was punctual in fasting in my native village of Gormani. This flood has ruined us in this camp. We are helpless and sad. There is no washroom. I cannot keep myself clean so I can’t fast.”

The vast majority of Pakistan’s 165 million people are Muslims. Most of them are devoted to the rituals of their faith.