The devastating floods, which affected over 33 million people and caused the deaths of over 1,100 people, are “the worst in the history of Pakistan”Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday, Aug.30. “The damage to our infrastructure is vast and extends throughout Pakistan”he added during a press conference.
Efforts have been intensifying since June to help Pakistanis hit by the incessant monsoon rains that have submerged a third of the country. More than $ 10 billion will be needed to repair damage and rebuild flood-damaged infrastructure, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Tuesday, noting:
“Great damage has been caused to infrastructure, particularly in the telecommunications, roads, agriculture and livelihood sectors. “
These rains “unprecedented for thirty years”, According to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, it has destroyed or damaged more than a million homes and devastated large areas of agricultural land essential to the country’s economy. Authorities and humanitarian organizations are struggling to accelerate aid to the more than 33 million people – or one in seven Pakistanis – affected by the floods. The task is difficult, as the floods have wiped out a series of roads and bridges, completely isolating some regions.
“It’s all a big ocean”
There are hardly any dry places left in the south and west, and displaced people have to flock to main roads or high rail lines to escape the flooded plains. And in the northern mountainous areas, authorities are still trying to reach isolated villages, which could further increase the death toll. Victims wander like ghosts along the rare arid areas in search of shelter, food and drinking water.
Pakistani officials attribute the devastating climate to climate change, saying their country is suffering the consequences of irresponsible environmental practices in other parts of the world. “Seeing the devastation on the ground is truly stunning”Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said Monday.
“Literally, one third of Pakistan is underwater right now”more than during the 2010 floods, when 2,000 people were killed and nearly a fifth of the country was submerged in monsoon rains, he said. “It’s all just a big ocean, there is no dry place to pump water from. It has become a crisis of unimaginable proportions “she added.
Pakistan received twice as much rainfall as usual, according to the Meteorological Service. In the southern provinces (Baluchistan and Sind), the most affected, the rains were more than four times higher than the average of the last thirty years. Sind province is an infinite water horizon and the country’s main river, the Indus, fed by countless streams from the north, threatens to overflow its banks.
More than a billion dollars in aid from the IMF
These floods come at the worst time for Pakistan, which had already asked for international aid to help its failing economy. The government has declared a state of emergency and called on the international community to support it. On Tuesday it launched an urgent appeal with the United Nations for donations of $ 160 million to fund an emergency plan for the next six months, primarily intended to provide basic services (health, food, clean water and shelter) to 5.2 millions more people affected.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday agreed to resume a long-negotiated and essential financial support program for the country, and announced the release of a $ 1.1 billion envelope. The prices of basic foodstuffs are on the rise – those of tomatoes and onions have risen by 40% in a week – and supply problems are already being felt in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab. For its part, the United States announced on Tuesday a first shipment of humanitarian aid, worth $ 30 million. Cargo flights from China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have started.
“Pakistan is awash with suffering. The people of Pakistan are facing a monsoon on steroids, the relentless impact of [énormes] levels of rain and flooding are unprecedented “United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said. His he spokesperson announced that he would visit the country next week “solidarity” with the victims.
Improvised camps have sprung up everywhere – in schools, on highways, on military bases, among others – to house the displaced. In Nowshera, in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the north-west of the country, a college has been transformed into a shelter for about 2,500 people, who struggle to find food and water.