Pakistan floods caused by ‘monsoon on steroids’, says UN chief

The appeal comes as Pakistani officials said the floods had already caused more than $10 billion in damage and called for more international aid.

“The people of Pakistan are facing a monsoon on steroids – the relentless impact of historic levels of rain and flooding,” António Guterres said when launching the appeal.

“As we continue to see more and more extreme weather events around the world, it is outrageous that climate action is being put on the back burner as global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, which puts us all – everywhere – in a dangerous growth situation,” he said.

“Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet through climate change,” he said. “Today it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow it could be your country.

Images of water gushing through streets, engulfing villages and destroying bridges are stark reminders of the inequalities of the climate crisis, which is having a disproportionate impact on the developing world. Wealthier countries also bear much greater historical responsibility for the crisis in the first place.

Pakistan last year ranked eighth among the countries most affected by climate change from 2000 to 2019, in the Global Climate Risk Index by the non-profit group Germanwatch. People living in hotspots like South Asia are 15 times more likely to die from the effects of the climate crisis.

“This is a climate crisis,” Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF representative in Pakistan, told CNN. “A climate that has been mainly created by wealthier countries, contributing to the crisis, and I think it’s time for the world to step up to support Pakistan in this time of need.”

The deadly floods threaten to engulf up to a third of the nation by the end of the monsoon season, taking a heavy toll in lives and infrastructure, and wreaking havoc on crops across farmland amid of a food crisis.

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Monday revealed the estimated $10 billion cost to the country, telling CNN: “The world must come to the aid of Pakistan to deal with the effects of climate change.”

In a statement on Monday, IRC Pakistan Country Director Shabnam Baloch said Pakistan produces less than 1% of the global carbon footprint.

The lack of sanitation facilities and clean water has exacerbated the risk of disease spreading in flooded areas, with nearly 20,000 people in need of essential food and medical support, Baloch added.

“Our needs assessment has shown that we are already seeing a significant increase in cases of diarrhoea, skin infections, malaria and other illnesses,” she said. “We urgently call on donors to step up their support and help us save lives.”

A third of Pakistan could soon be under water

In a statement on Tuesday, Pakistan’s military said rescue missions were underway and international aid was beginning to arrive in the country, including seven military jets from Turkey and three from the United Arab Emirates.

Helicopters evacuated more than 300 stranded people and distributed more than 23 tons of relief items, while more than 50 medical camps were established with more than 33,000 patients treated, according to the statement.

Pakistan pleads for international aid as parts of the country 'look like a small ocean'

Also on Tuesday, China will send two planes carrying 3,000 tents and Japan will send tarpaulins and shelters, the statement said, adding that the UK, Canada, Australia and Azerbaijan have announced financial aid.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided another lifeline on Monday, releasing $1.17 billion in rescue funds to avert a debt default for the South Asian nation as it grapples with political and economic unrest aggravated by unprecedented flooding.

Peter Ophoff, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Pakistan, told CNN he hadn’t seen anything of the magnitude of the floods in nearly three decades of work for the aid agency. However, the country was hit by equally devastating floods in 2010.

“Pakistan is in dire need and the damage is there and we will be there for a very long time,” Ophoff said. “It’s not months but years we’re talking about.”

The 33 million people affected by the floods and rains represent 15% of the population.

Among the 1,136 people killed since mid-June were 386 children, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) said on Monday, as incessant rain raised fears of more deaths to come. Nearly half a million homes have been destroyed, according to the NDMA.

“When all of this is over, we may well have a quarter or a third of Pakistan under water,” Pakistani Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman told Turkish media TRT World last week.

“Water Sprung”

Dramatic scenes of disaster unfolded in Pakistan as floods inundated the country.

It was raining but not much, Ali Jan told Reuters on Monday as he stood surrounded by water in Chadsadda, northern Pakistan. But that quickly changed.

“Suddenly the outer wall of the compound collapsed and water gushed out,” Jan said. “We barely managed to save ourselves. By the time the women left the house, the water was almost waist deep. We evacuated the women and the cattle. The rest is there for you to see. see. Crops were also destroyed.”

Families sit near their belongings flooded by floodwaters in Balochistan province, southwestern Pakistan on August 28, 2022.

In videos shared by the Alkhidmat Pakistan Foundation, its volunteers used a makeshift bed frame and pulley system to help a child and an elderly man navigate floodwaters, according to the NGO’s digital media manager. , Ihtisham Khaliq Waseer.

More than 3,000 volunteers from the NGO are distributing aid across the country, he said.

“We are getting help, but it’s not enough with what we need on the ground because the damage is much bigger than expected,” he said, adding that the volunteer teams have been called upon to deliver supplies to hard-to-reach areas for weeks. .

Waseer said he hoped that as the rains ease and floodwaters recede over the coming week based on the weather forecast, his team will be able to provide food rations and to set up medical centers in remote areas.

Additional Reuters reporting.

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