At donation distribution: deaths after stampede in Pakistan

Status: 04/01/2023 1:36 p.m

At least 11 people have died in a stampede in Karachi, Pakistan. The police arrested eight suspects. During Ramadan, donations were distributed to the needy.

By Udo Schmidt, ARD Studio New Delhi

The morning after the disaster, hundreds of flip-flops and sandals lie on the premises of the company that distributed the donations. They are silent witnesses to the panic that broke out here the night before.

“Money has been distributed here in the industrial park for several days,” says Faisal Edhi, founder of an aid organization. This time too many people came, panic broke out among the crowd. “Attempts to control this panic only made it worse. Some have drowned in the nearby drain, others have been trampled to death.” Edhi is shaken. The fundraiser was not registered and the organizers were overwhelmed.

Three children and at least eight women among the victims

Among the dead are three children and at least eight women. During the night, people searched for their relatives. The victims lay in state, covered only with simple tarpaulins. Those who survived find it difficult to tell their experiences. Bibi Khursid is wrapped in a red cloth and rocks her head as she speaks. Her sister died nearby, she tells the AP news agency:

Those behind us kept pushing. You didn’t stop. I almost got crushed. Then my sister fell on me. When I came to, she was gone. When the crowd dispersed, I found her – dead.

Donation distribution during Ramdan

Pakistan is in one of the country’s worst economic crises. The price of flour has increased by more than 45 percent compared to the previous year. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif therefore launched an initiative to distribute flour free of charge during the fasting month of Ramadan in order to counteract rising poverty. In the past few days, the rush to the distribution centers has increased significantly.

Last week people were crushed to death during food distributions in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. With the latest disaster in Karachi, the death toll has risen to at least 21 within a week.

criticism of the government

In addition to sadness, there is also great anger at the government in Islamabad. Mehrunnisa has wrapped a colored scarf around her head as a burqa, she is beside herself. “Millions of women have been asked to leave their homes to get free food. The prime minister blames his predecessor Imran Khan for everything, but he is responsible himself. We have no gas, no electricity, no water,” says Mehrunnisa . Everything has become expensive, including rice.

The distribution of donations is customary during Ramadan, and Prime Minister Sharif had expressly requested this. The inflation rate in Pakistan is 30 percent. Basic food prices have doubled, and last summer’s catastrophic floods made things worse.

Disaster at donation distribution in Pakistan

Udo Schmidt, NDR, April 1, 2023 10:19 a.m

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