Pakistan pleads for international aid as parts of country ‘resemble a small ocean’

Climate Change Minister Sherri Rehman said on Sunday that the unprecedented rain had caused a “climate catastrophe”: flood waters flooded homes, destroyed farmland and forced millions of people to flee their homes.

“For the first time, we had to deploy a navy to work in Indo-Pakistan, because most of it is like a small ocean,” she told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

The death toll rose to 1,061 on Monday since mid-June, according to the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), as incessant rain raised fears of more casualties.

“By the time this is over, a quarter or a third of Pakistan could very well be under water,” Rehman told Turkish news agency TRT World on Thursday.

On Monday, new satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed the extent of the disaster, with houses and fields along the Indus River completely flooded, as well as the cities of Rajanpur and Rojkhan in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.

A video released by the Pakistani army shows troops staging treacherous helicopter rescues of people stranded in flood waters, including one boy stranded on rocks in the middle of a raging river in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Rapid flash floods destroyed more than 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) of roads, 130 bridges and 495,000 homes were damaged, according to the latest NDMA situation report, making it even more difficult to access flooded areas.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Butto-Zardari said on Sunday that this year’s rainy season has been “absolutely devastating”.

“I have not seen destruction or devastation on this scale,” Butto-Zardari said. “It’s very hard for me to put into words the phraseology we’re used to, whether it’s monsoon rains or flooding doesn’t seem to quite reflect the ongoing devastation and calamity we’re still seeing.”

national disaster

According to a video from his office, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif joined the relief effort over the weekend by delivering supplies from a helicopter to areas difficult to reach by water or land.
“Visiting flood-affected areas and meeting people. The scale of the disaster is greater than expected,” Sharif said in tweet on Saturday. “The time demands that we unite as a single nation in support of our people facing this calamity. Let’s rise above our differences and stand by our people who need us today.”

After meeting with ambassadors and diplomats in Islamabad on Friday, he turned to the international community for help.

Residents gather along a road damaged by flood waters following heavy monsoon rains in the Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, August 29, 2022.

On Monday, Peter Offoff, head of IFRC in Pakistan, said the aid network had applied for more than $25 million to provide emergency assistance to some 324,000 people in the country.

“Looking at the incredible damage caused by the floods, it is gradually becoming clear to us that the relief effort will take a very long time. It will be a long swampy journey as the people of Pakistan travel back to what is left of their homes,” Ophoff said.

More than 3.1 million people have been displaced from their homes by “marine” floods, which damaged more than half a million homes in several parts of the country, according to a statement released on Saturday by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. IFRC).

Abrar ul Haq, chairman of the humanitarian network in Pakistan, said on Friday that water is not the only concern for aid workers in the region.

“These torrential floods have severely limited transport and mobility. The threat of Covid-19 and damage to vehicles, infrastructure and communications is making our relief work all but impossible. Most of the victims are also immobile or abandoned, making it difficult to access them. ,” he said.

Displaced people prepare for breakfast in their tents at a makeshift camp after fleeing their flood-affected homes following heavy monsoon rains in the Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, August 29, 2022.

“Monsoon Monster of the Decade”

Pakistan already struggling with eighth monsoon cycle, Rehman said Thursday, an anomaly in a country that usually has three or four such rainy spells a year.

“Pakistan is experiencing one of the worst climate disasters in the world,” Rehman said in a video message.

“We are currently in the midst of the extreme weather events we have seen since the beginning of this year in the form of an unrelenting cascade of heatwaves, wildfires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake outbursts and now a monstrous monsoon. decade”.

In a comment on Sunday, Butto-Zardari said Pakistan is bearing the brunt of climate change as other countries with large carbon footprints are doing little to reduce their emissions.

“Pakistan contributes insignificantly to the overall carbon footprint, but we face such climate disasters again and again and we have to adapt within our limited resources,” he said.

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