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(Photo: Pakistani flood victims line up for aid distribution in Muzaffargarh district, September 2, 2010/Damir Sagolj)
Lime green dresses for girls spill out of the sack of food, supplies and shoes -- a gift from the Islamist charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) to help flood victims celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid this month.
Blacklisted by the U.N. over its links to the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group blamed for the 2008 attack on Mumbai, the JuD has been quick to help people hit by Pakistan's floods, raising fears among U.S. officials that Islamists use aid to gain recruits.
But it does not have the capacity to establish a big presence -- the devastation was so vast that roads were cut and the only means of transport is helicopter -- so JuD officials say they are trying to make up for this by other, thoughtful, means.
"We don't have the resources to meet their demands or get their houses rebuilt or give compensation for their crops," said Yahya Mujahid, a JuD spokesman, inside the group's headquarters in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province. "So this idea came up ... let's give them this package so that they can forget their problems for at least one day."
(Photo: Flood victims wait for food handouts in a relief camp in Sukkur, August 20, 2010/Akhtar Soomro)
Pakistan has said it will clamp down on charities linked to Islamist militants amid fears their involvement in flood relief could exploit anger against the government and undermine the fight against groups like the Taliban. Islamist charities have moved swiftly to fill the vacuum left by a government overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster and struggling to reach millions of people in dire need of shelter, food and drinking water.
It would not be the first time the government has announced restrictions against charities tied to militant groups, but critics say banned organisations often re-emerge with new names and authorities are not serious about stopping them.
China's ruling Communist Party has a testy and often bitter relationship with religion. During the chaos of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, temples and churches were shut, statues smashed, scriptures burned, and monks and nuns forced to return to secular life, often after receiving a good beating or even jail. (Photo: Suzhou, June 10, 2005/Thierry Roge)
While the officially atheist Communist Party hardly pushes religion these days, its attitude has softened considerably, though rights groups frequently complain of sometimes harsh restrictions on Christians and Muslims especially.
(Photo: Evacuees from a flooded village dodge an army truck carrying relief supplies in Pakistan's Punjab province on August 11, 2010/Adrees Latif)
They've been left homeless and hungry by the worst flooding in decades, but for many Pakistanis, their suffering is no reason to ignore Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month that began in their country on Thursday.
Floods triggered by heavy monsoon rain over much of Pakistan began nearly two weeks ago, and have killed about 1,600 people and disrupted the lives of about 14 million, including about two million who have been forced from their homes.
The Greek Orthodox Church is gearing up to provide relief supplies and psychological help when the country's financial crisis really hits ordinary people after the summer, a senior churchman has said.
A plastic bottle thrown into a Taipei recycling bin could be reincarnated as a blanket to warm disaster victims in any of 20 countries, thanks to a unique project by the world's largest Buddhist charity.
The Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has been taking plastic bottles from the waste stream of Taipei, a city of 2.6 million, for three years to convert them into about 244,000 polyester blankets intended for disaster zones. It has sent volunteers with relief supplies to some of the world's biggest disasters, including Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 and last year's devastating Sichuan earthquake in China.