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Religious groups unite around Pakistan

PUBLISHED: 15:33 25 August 2010 | UPDATED: 15:33 25 August 2010

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Members of the Muslim and Sikh community are leading the Pakistan relief effort in north Kent having raised around £5,000 in donations since the floods first struck.

Approximately 1,500 people have died and 15 million directly affected by the disaster, which struck at the end of July, after some of the heaviest rainfall in Pakistan’s history inundated the Indus River in the north of the country.

As reported in last week’s Reporter, members of the Gravesend and Dartford Muslim Association (GDMA) have set up an appeal and the amount raised so far is around £5,000 and is rising by the day.

Following our article Sikhs at the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Clarence Place, Gravesend, got in touch with the group and handed over a cheque for £600 to the appeal.

Narin Derjit Singh, the General Secretary of the Gurdwara, said: “We have a good relationship with people across the whole community and we all work together, especially when this type of disaster happens.

“We don’t even look at it in terms of different communities, this is just about being a human being. We should do as much as possible to help the people of Pakistan get through this catastrophe.

“One of the central planks of Sikhism is that it is our duty to help anyone who is more in need than us.”

The situation could dramatically worsen, as Pakistan is only halfway through monsoon season with further flooding expected.

The death toll is expected to rise dramatically as diseases like cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery spread in the murky waters and little medicine available, nor doctors to administer it.

Mr Singh, of Brook Road, Northhfleet, who is also a Gravesham Borough Councillor, said: “Even though the reaction was slow, I think everyone is doing their best to help the relief effort now – I understand that the UK government has recently doubled it’s donation, which is great news.”

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has launched an emergency appeal, but the amount of aid pledged worldwide has been heavily criticised. International donors committed £29 million – amounting to £2.10 per person affected – to tackling the crisis in the first 10 days, compared to £318 per person after the Haiti earthquake, according to Oxfam.

Chairman of the GDMA, Ejaz Aslam, said: “The whole Muslim community here in Gravesend has come together and given very generously to the Pakistan relief effort. But every time we have an appeal, they are always very giving.”

“The world is slowly realising the scale of this catastrophe - America has been particularly slow to cotton on, but even they said he other day that they are aware how bad this really is now.”

You can send donations to the GDMA, a registered charity, to Akram Malik, at 11 Albion Terrace, Gravesend DA12 2SX. Make cheques payable to the Dartford and Gravesham Muslim Association.

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