UN Issues $160 Million Flash Appeal to Help Pakistan Cope With Devastating Floods

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ISLAMABAD — The United Nations issued a flash appeal on Tuesday for $160 million to help Pakistan tackle devastating floods that have killed at least 1,136 since mid-June and reportedly affected more than 33 million people.

The global body said it was seeking $161 million to provide critical food and cash assistance to victims, reports dpa news agency.

The flooding, triggered by heavy monsoon rains since mid-June, also injured 1,634 people, displaced more than 33 million others and destroyed 1,051,570 houses, 162 bridges, and 170 shops, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The NDMA also revealed that an estimated 735,375 livestock have perished in the record deluge.

Early estimates put the damage from the floods at more than $10 billion, Pakistan government has said, adding that the world had an obligation to help the country cope with the effects of man-made climate change.

“Pakistan is awash in suffering,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a video message for the launch of the appeal in Islamabad and Geneva. “The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids — the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding.”

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan, Julien Harneis called for “burden-sharing and solidarity” in the wake of a “climate-change driven catastrophe,” which she said is expected to worsen.

The UN has already mobilised about $7 million, including redirecting existing programs and resources to meet the most urgent needs, he said.

The ongoing assistance includes food aid and nutrition, medical supplies and services, safe water, maternal health support, vaccination of livestock and shelter.

In addition, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated $3 million to provide health, nutrition, food, water, sanitation and hygiene services to those who most need it.

Neighbouring China on Tuesday announced 100 million yuan ($14.5 million) in aid to Pakistan.

Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the US, European Union, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have already announced they will contribute to relief efforts.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also urged nations to extend their support to Pakistan in these challenging times.

Bilawal Bhutto said the devastation witnessed in Pakistan following the recent spell of unprecedented rains and floods showed that the country had become “ground zero” of global warming, the “biggest existential threat” of this century, reports AFP.

“The current cycle of super flooding we see today is part of extreme weather patterns. Unprecedented levels of cloud bursts and torrential rains have triggered widespread devastation, urban flooding, river floods and landslides, resulting in the loss of human life, livelihoods and livestock,” Bilawal said.

He described this year’s “super floods” as a “climate calamity”, adding that “what we are facing today has been no above average monsoon.

“It is an entirely new level of climate-led catastrophe.”

Sharing details about the extent of damage, he said 72 districts were declared calamity-hit, over 33 million people were affected — which is the size of a small country — over 1,000 people had lost their lives and several others were grappling with the loss of livelihoods and displacement.

Moreover, he said the damage to infrastructure and railway networks was impeding efforts to deliver aid and to shift people from flood-hit areas to safer locations.

Bilawal said the situation was likely to deteriorate further as more rains continued to pummel already flooded areas.

“For us, this is no less than a national emergency. This is a life-defining experience.” — Agencies

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Cover photo: Rescuers evacuate flood-affected people in Jafarabad district in Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province, on August 29. — Xinhua

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