In a rapid $160 million plea for Pakistan’s flood-ravaged country, UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday warned that the world is “sleepwalking” into an environmental disaster.
One of the worst monsoon seasons for the nation in more than ten years has resulted in more than 1,100 fatalities and 33 million additional casualties.
During the appeal’s launch, Guterres said, “The Pakistani people are experiencing a monsoon on steroids — the persistent impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding.”
“It is ridiculous that climate action is being put on the back burner as global emissions of greenhouse gases are still rising, placing all of us — everywhere — at growing risk,” he added. “As we continue to see more and more extreme weather occurrences around the world.”
Guterres, who will make a “solidarity visit” to Pakistan on September 9 said, “Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the devastation of our world by climate change.” “It’s Pakistan right now. It might be your nation tomorrow.”
Images of rivers spilling down streets, communities being swallowed up, and bridges being destroyed serve as a vivid reminder of the inequalities of the climate problem, which disproportionately affects the developing world. Richer nations are also considerably more historically accountable for the origin of the issue.
The current flooding in Pakistan, according to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, is “the worst in the country’s history.”
Since taking office as prime minister in April, this was his first interview with a foreign media outlet. He warned that Pakistan was in danger of a food shortage because of the crop devastation brought on by the floods and that the cost of tomatoes and onions had “skyrocketed.”
According to Sharif, “every bit of help” sent to Pakistan “will reach the poor.”
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal suggested that the global north increase its support for nations suffering from climate change during the same press conference.
“Someone is paying the price in the developing world for all the quality of life that people are enjoying in the west,” he remarked.
In the Global Climate Risk Index published by the non-profit organization Germanwatch last year, Pakistan was listed as the eighth most severely impacted country by climate change from 2000 to 2019. A person’s chance of dying from the effects of the climate catastrophe is 15 times higher in regions like South Asia.
According to Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF’s representative in Pakistan, “This is a climate disaster.” “The situation is largely the result of actions taken by wealthier nations, and I believe it is time for the international community to act to aid Pakistan in its hour of need.”
Torrential monsoon rains in Pakistan have taken the lives of over 1,000 people – a third of them children.
UNICEF is on the ground delivering lifesaving medical supplies, safe water and hygiene kits.
Help a child by donating today. https://t.co/xJg7S37iJL
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) August 31, 2022
By the conclusion of the monsoon season, the devastating floods might envelop up to one-third of the country, claiming many lives, damaging infrastructure, and ruining crops across farmland at a time when there is a global food crisis.
Shabnam Baloch, the national director for Pakistan at IRC, stated in a statement on Monday that Pakistan contributed less than 1% of the global carbon footprint.
Nearly 20,000 people require urgent food supplies and medical assistance, and the risk of diseases spreading in flooded areas has increased due to a shortage of hygienic facilities and safe drinking water, according to Baloch.
Our requirements analysis revealed that the prevalence of diarrhea, skin infections, malaria, and other ailments has already significantly increased, she noted. “We desperately need donors to increase their contributions and support us in saving lives.”
In reaction to the flooding in Pakistan, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) declared on Tuesday that it will give $30 million in humanitarian aid.
A USAID disaster management specialist has already arrived in Islamabad to assess the impact of the floods and to work with partners on the ground, the agency said in a press release. “With these funds, USAID partners will prioritize urgently needed support for food, nutrition, multipurpose cash, safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene, and shelter assistance.”
Pakistan may soon have a third of its land covered by water.
The Pakistani military said in a statement on Tuesday that rescue operations were still in progress and that foreign aid, including seven military aircraft from Turkey and three from the United Arab Emirates, was beginning to reach the nation.
More than 300 stranded persons had been airlifted away, more than 23 metric tonnes of relief supplies had been provided, and more than 50 medical camps had been set up, with more than 33,000 patients receiving treatment, according to the statement.
According to the announcement, China will send two aircraft on Tuesday carrying 3,000 tents, and Japan will contribute tarpaulins and shelters. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Azerbaijan have already offered financial support.
As the South Asian country struggles with political and economic unrest made worse by the historic floods, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) threw it another lifeline on Monday by releasing $1.17 billion in bailout funding. This prevented a default on the country’s debt commitments.
In his nearly three decades of service to the relief organization, Peter Ophoff, chairman of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Pakistan, told that he had never witnessed flooding on the scale of the current disaster. However, the nation experienced comparable disastrous floods in 2010.
Ophoff declared, “We will be in this for a very long period. Pakistan is in desperate need. “We’re not talking about months, but years.”
15% of the population was affected by the 33 million flood and rain victims.
386 of the 1,136 individuals who have died since mid-June were youngsters, according to the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), which also expressed concern that there may still be more fatalities due to the persistent rain. According to NDMA, about 500,000 dwellings have been destroyed.
Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s minister for climate change, said last week that by the time this is through, “we may have a quarter or a third of Pakistan under water.”
Water poured in
As floods overwhelmed the nation, dramatic calamity scenes played out there.
In Chadsadda in northern Pakistan, Ali Jan told Reuters on Monday that it was raining but not very hard.
However, that suddenly altered.
Jan claimed, “All of a sudden the outer wall of the enclosure fell and water flowed in.” “We just about made it out alive. The water had almost reached waist depth by the time the women were ready to leave the house. Both the livestock and the ladies were removed. You may see the remainder there. Additionally, crops were devastated.”
Ihtisham Khaliq Washer, the NGO’s digital media manager, claims that in films posted by the Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan, its volunteers helped a youngster and an old man cross swiftly rising floodwaters using a bed frame and improvised pulley systems.
According to him, the NGO’s more than 3,000 volunteers are dispersing aid all around the nation.
“We are getting relief, but it’s not enough with what we need on the ground,” he said, adding that volunteer teams have been working tirelessly for weeks to transport supplies to difficult-to-reach places.
According to weather predictions, Washer expressed his expectation that his team will be able to distribute food rations and establish medical facilities in outlying locations when the rains lessen and the flood levels recede in the upcoming week.