Pakistan, UN launch aid appeal for flood victims
Islamabad, Aug 30 (EFE).- The Pakistan government and the United Nations on Tuesday jointly launched a flood response plan making a flash appeal of $160 million for more than 33 million victims of the natural disaster.
The Pakistani government has estimated the total damage inflicted by the floods at $10 billion.
“(The) United Nations is issuing the flash appeal for $160 million to support the response laid by the government of Pakistan,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a video message at the launch of the appeal simultaneously in Islamabad and Geneva.
The UN chief said these funds will provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency, education, protection and needed support.
“Pakistan is awash in suffering,” Guterres said, adding “the Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids – the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding.”
“The scale of needs is rising like the flood waters and it requires world’s collective and prioritized attention,” the secretary general added.
Speaking at the event, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said hundreds of thousands of people, including women and children, have been displaced and forced to spend days and nights in camps and open areas, under a merciless sky.
The minister said unprecedented levels of cloudbursts, torrential and uninterrupted rain have caused widespread devastation, triggering urban flooding, river floods, hill torrents and landslides.
This has resulted in loss of human lives, livelihoods and livestock, and caused severe damage to property and infrastructure.
He said southern, central and northern parts of Pakistan have been the worst affected, particularly Balochistan and Sindh, while 72 districts have been declared “calamity-hit.”
“It is feared that the scale of the disaster well exceed that of the 2010 mega-floods,” said Bhutto-Zardari.
He said because of its geographic location, and a confluence of other vectors, “Pakistan has become the ground zero of this century’s biggest existential threat, global warming.”
The foreign minister said the calamity was a clear manifestation of the direct and unmitigated consequences of climate change.
He warned the situation was likely to deteriorate even further as heavy rains have continued over areas already inundated by more than two months of storms and flooding. “For us, this is no less than a national emergency.”
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chairman Lieutenant General Akhtar Nawaz said that the country witnessed 186 percent more rainfall this year compared to the average of the last 30 years, and more than two million acres of land was submerged.
According to the NDMA, more than 1,100 people have lost their lives due to the rains and consequent floods, while more than 33 million have been affected.
Moreover, more than one million houses have been fully or partially damaged so far.
Both Kabul and Swat rivers in the north have swelled causing water levels to rise in the mighty Indus river, which is expected to affect millions of people in the already inundated Sindh province.
Sindh has been affected by heavy monsoon rains and floods. Warnings of high floods have also been issued in the southern part of Punjab province where the Indus passes through to Sindh. EFE