Leeds rallies to aid Pakistan flood victims (Yorkshire Evening Post)

    5 August 2010
    Yorkshire Evening Post

    By Aisha Iqbal

    Prayers were being said today at Leeds' biggest mosque as the full devastating effects of Pakistan's worst ever monsoon flooding continued to emerge.

    A series of fundraisers are also being planned across the West Yorkshire region for victims of the disaster.

    Around 1,500 people have now been confirmed dead, and more than 2.5 million thought to have been left homeless or displaced by the worst flooding in the country's history.

    Some 400,000 of the worst affected are children.

    Leeds and the surrounding towns are home to thousands of families with links to Pakistan and many of them are now raising money to help.

    Among them is Leeds' flagship mosque, the Makkah Masjid in Hyde Park, where a collection fund has been launched and prayers are also being said for the flood victims and their families.

    The mosque's priest, Qari Asim Mohammed, said: 'We've been holding special prayer services and will be raising funds this Friday and next Friday.'

    Qari Mohammed added: 'There are many people in Leeds with connections to Pakistan who are devastated – the community is grieving with them about the loss of human life.

    'There are nearly three million people affected, that's the same as the number of Muslims in the UK.

    'Ramadan is just round the corner and the whole point of it is to empathise with people who cannot afford two meals a day, about spiritual cleansing and also understanding practically. These people's basic needs have been taken away and I think people will be giving generously to help them.'

    Imran Khan, founder of the Pudsey-based Khan Can People's Charity, said: 'We need to raise as much as possible to help these people in need.

    'I have been watching the pictures on the TV and it is utter devastation. I feel like going there now and helping out but it takes time and we need people to donate in any way they can. Even £1 will go a long way so please give what you can.'

    Mr Khan, a car salesman and part-time model, will be organising a fundraiser in the coming days.

    Adam Bin Yusuf, a Batley-based fundraiser with West Yorkshire charity the Ummah Welfare Trust, said it had launched a £2 million appeal for flood victims. He said one of the orphanages the charity runs in the Nowshera region, one of the worst hit, had been heavily damaged.

    Dozens of orphans were airlifted to safety, he said, and relief workers from our region are providing vital support on the ground.

    Other West Yorkshire organisations, such as the Get Connected women's network, are planning fundraisers to co-incide with the start of the Ramadan festival.

    The Islamic Relief charity, which also has a large and active Leeds/Bradford branch, has launched a fundraising appeal in conjunction with other major charities on the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee).

    Regional manager Waseem Aslam explained most of the land routes linking to the flood-affected regions had been disrupted, the flood waters have washed bridges completely away and houses have collapsed.

    Charity workers are distributing tents and blankets. As well as donating to the national appeal, people in Leeds are also invited to donate stock to their local Red Cross charity shop and specify that the money raised from the sale of their items in the next fortnight goes to the Pakistan Floods Appeal.

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