New rains add to the unease of millions of people affected by the worst floods in the country’s history.
A diversion channel to relieve congestion in Pakistan’s largest freshwater lake has been drilled and surrounding villages have had to be evacuated as further heavy rains add to the mess of millions of people affected by the worst floods in their history. A third of Pakistan – an area the size of the UK – is under water after months of record monsoon rains that killed 1,300 people and destroyed homes, businesses, roads and bridges.
The government has set at least $ 10 billion for a country already in the throes of a severe economic crisis, while hundreds of thousands of people are left homeless when the monsoon ends and winter is upon us. “There is no place to shower or go to the bathroomsays Zebunnisa Bibi, in the shelter of about 500 people who fled their flooded villages in a camp near Fazilpur, in the province of Punjab.
Such camps, complete with tents, have sprung up all over southern and western Pakistan, where there are hardly any dry places left to drain water. In the southern province of Sindh, engineers had to dig a diversion canal to drain water from Lake Manchar, which was overflowing and threatened the cities of Sehwan and Bhan Saeedabad, whose combined population approaches half a million. souls. Thousands of people had to be evacuated from the flooded homes around the new canal.
Bigger than ever
“The flow of water has been diverted, but the threat is far from goneThe information minister of Sindh Sharjeel Inam Memon told AFP on Monday. “We are doing our best to prevent other villages from being flooded.Lake Manchar, located a few kilometers west of the Indus, varies in size depending on the season and the extent of the weather. But, according to the local population, it has never been as vast as it is today.
Most of the southern provinces of Sind and Baluchistan are just an endless expanse of water, with people huddling in the few elevated and still dry places, particularly on roads or railways. Human and animal feces in fetid water attract swarms of flies and mosquitoes, and outbreaks of dengue fever have already been reported.
A woman about to give birth in a camp in Punjab province told AFP that she was desperate to finally get medical help. “I need a doctor or a midwife. What if something happens to my child?“Worries Fahmidah Bibi, a mother of five children who fears giving birth in such an environment.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) announced over the weekend that at least 128,000 pregnant women in flooded areas were in urgent need of assistance, with 42,000 expected to give birth in the next three months.
Pakistan receives monsoon rains essential to irrigate plantations and replenish water resources, but often destructive. However, it hadn’t seen such heavy rain in at least three decades.
Islamabad attributes the devastating floods to climate change, which is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events across the planet. This year Pakistan has already faced a heat wave that sometimes exceeded 50 ° C, devastating forest fires and devastating floods caused by the rapid melting of glaciers. It is responsible for less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but ranks eighth among the countries most at risk from extreme weather events, according to a study by the NGO Germanwatch.
A large rescue operation led by the army has been underway for several days. But the government admitted that it was overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster and asked the international community for help. According to the latest data from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), nearly 6,000 km of roads have been wiped out since the beginning of the monsoon in June, 246 bridges destroyed and 1.6 million homes destroyed or badly damaged.