- The floods killed at least 1,100 people and affected 33 million people
- A third of the country is under water – Climate Minister
- Climate disaster in Pakistan needs world’s attention – Guterres
- Disaster ‘internationally driven’ – UN harnesses
SARSADA, Pakistan, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Torrential rains and floods have submerged a third of Pakistan and killed more than 1,100 people, including 380 children, as the United Nations appealed for help on Tuesday in what it described as an “unprecedented climate disaster.” “
Military helicopters plucked stranded families and dropped food parcels to inaccessible areas The historic deluge, triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rains, destroyed homes, businesses, infrastructure and crops, affecting 33 million people, 15% of the 220 million-strong South Asian nation.
In the quarter to August this year, the country received 190% more rain than the 30-year average, totaling 390.7 millimeters (15.38 in). Sindh province, home to a population of 50 million, was hit hardest, receiving 466% more rain than the 30-year average.
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“A third of the country is under water,” Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman told Reuters, describing the scale of the disaster as a “catastrophe of unprecedented proportions.”
He said the water is not going to recede anytime soon.
At least 380 children were among the dead, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif told reporters at his office in Islamabad.
“Pakistan is suffering,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message as the United Nations launched a $160 million appeal to help the South Asian country. “Pakistan’s People Face Monsoon on Steroids – Relentless Impact of Epoch-Size Rains and Floods.”
A UN spokesman said Guterres will travel to Pakistan next week to witness the effects of the “unprecedented climate disaster”.
He said the scale of the climate catastrophe had drawn the world’s collective attention.
About 300 stranded people, including some tourists, were airlifted in northern Pakistan on Tuesday, a state-run disaster management agency said in a statement, while more than 50,000 people were moved to two government shelters in the northwest.
“Life here is very painful,” 63-year-old villager Hussain Sadiq, who was in a shelter with his parents and five children, told Reuters, adding that his family had “lost everything”.
Hussain said medical aid was inadequate and diarrhea and fever were common in the shelter.
Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the northern valley of Swat to inspect the rescue and relief work, saying “rehabilitation will take a long time”.
The US will provide $30 million in flood relief assistance to Pakistan through USAID, its embassy in Islamabad said in a statement, saying the country was “deeply saddened by the devastating loss of lives, livelihoods and homes across Pakistan”. read more
‘Duty to Help’
Initial estimates put the damage from the floods at more than $10 billion, and the government said the world had an obligation to help Pakistan deal with the effects of man-made climate change. read more
The Prime Minister said that the losses would be very high.
Incessant rains poured down from the northern mountains, destroying buildings and bridges, washing away roads and standing crops, triggering flash floods.
An enormous amount of water pours into the Indus River, which flows through the middle of the country from its northern peaks to the southern plains, bringing floods along its entire length.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said hundreds of thousands of people were living outside without food, clean water, shelter or basic sanitation.
Guterres said he hopes to raise $160 million through the appeal, which will provide food, water, sanitation, emergency education and health assistance to 5.2 million people.
‘Not enough help’
Prime Minister Sharif called for the aid to be “rapidly scaled up” and assured that “every penny will reach the poor and not go to waste”.
Sharif feared the disaster would further destabilize an already troubled economy, leading to a severe food shortage and inflation that peaked at 24.9% in July.
Wheat sowing may also be delayed and Pakistan is already in talks with Russia on wheat imports to minimize the impact.
National Disaster Management Authority chief General Akhtar Nawaz said that at least 72 of Pakistan’s 160 districts have been declared affected by disaster.
Two million acres (809,371 hectares) of agricultural land were flooded, he said.
Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan has become ground zero for global warming.
“The situation is likely to worsen as heavy rains continue in areas already inundated by storms and floods for more than two months,” he said.
Guterres appealed for a quick response to Pakistan’s plea to the international community for help and called for it to stop “sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet due to climate change”.
“Severe monsoon floods tell us there is no time to waste, the climate tipping point is here,” said Climate Change Minister Rehman, adding that Pakistan was looking for developed countries that would not allow other countries to pay for their carbon. Support development.
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Reporting by Asif Shahjad and Charlotte Greenfield in Islamabad and Gibran Beshimam in Kabul; Editing by Robert Birzel, Bernadette Baum, and Sandra Maler
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