NOWSHERA, PAKISTAN (AFP) – Makeshift camps have sprung up all over Pakistan – in schools, along motorways and at military bases – to give shelter to millions of displaced flood victims.
But the relief at finding safety can turn to desperation for many.
In the northwestern town of Nowshera, a technical college was turned into a shelter for up to 2,500 flood victims, who sweltered in the summer heat with sporadic food aid and little access to water for bathing.
“We have been only eating rice for the past three days,” 60-year-old Malang Jan told AFP.
“I never thought that one day we will have to live like this. We have lost our heaven and are now forced to live a miserable life.”
Mr Jan’s family were rescued by boat when his home was submerged in the floods that have swamped a third of the country, killing more than 1,100 people and affecting tens of millions more.
The college gardens are lined with tents – the classrooms are filled with the families who arrived first and grabbed the chance for privacy.
Others rest shoulder-to-shoulder in corridors with their meagre bundles of belongings.
Goats and chickens salvaged from the rising water graze in the campus courtyard.
The camp of 2,500 is managed by various charities, political parties and administrative officials overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster.
Volunteers hand out tents, mattresses, water, daal and naan.
“It’s a situation of panic,” said Mr Mushfiq Rehman, a district court official who stepped in to oversee food delivery for the local administration.
“There is enough food, but people are getting desperate because they don’t trust if they will get a meal again or not.”