Nearly 1,300 people have lost their lives since June with 57 deaths just in the last 24 hours in floods that have devastated Pakistan. Nearly one-third of the country is still underwater and over 33 million people have been displaced, according to disaster management officials.
Pakistan is struggling to cope with the unprecedented magnitude of the recent floods and is starring at damages worth USD 10 billion, putting more pressure to its already teetering economy.
Pakistan made a fresh plea on Saturday calling for the international community to ensure that their resolve to support the country remains undeterred. Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in northern mountains brought cataclysmic floods in the country injuring nearly 13,000 people across the neighboring nation.
The Climate Change Minister of Pakistan Sherry Rehman termed it the “monster monsoon”. The National Flood Response Coordination Centre held its first meeting to review the flood response. According to National Flood Response Coordination Centre, the Pakistan government has set up a nodal disaster agency to provide an institutional response to the devastating floods, reports PTI.
Following the high-level meeting, Pakistan’s civil and military officials have said the federal government is doing everything it can to bring back normalcy in the country. Due to internal displacement, more than 500,000 people are currently living in relief camps across Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Punjab provinces, according to the report, reports PTI.
Pakistan bore the brunt of 500 per cent more rainfall compared to a 30-year average, the minister said. “The scale of the calamity faced by Pakistan can be matched to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in the US that rendered the world’s super power helpless,” Iqbal said.
Pakistan’s farmers are among the worst hit and are counting their losses from the devastating floods that have put a third of the country under water, wiping-out acres of fertile agricultural land. Farmers rue that the natural calamity has put the country back by 50 years.
UN chief Antonio Guterres will arrive in Pakistan on September 9 for a solidarity visit and inspect flood-hit regions, after a USD 160 million emergency plan was launched by the UN and the Pakistan government to provide relief to millions of people living in flood relief camps. On Saturday, a French aircraft carrying relief goods landed in Islamabad on Saturday and was received by Minister for National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel.
This was followed by the ninth flight from the United Arab Emirates and the first from Uzbekistan. The US has announced USD 30 million worth of aid for the flood victims earlier this week.
Meanwhile, two members of the US Congress, Sheila Jackson and Tom Suzy, were expected to arrive in Pakistan on Sunday to visit the flood-hit areas and meet officials. Pakistan Army spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, who also attended the meeting, told the media that efforts were underway to rehabilitate the displaced.
We are utilising all our resources to rehabilitate people in the flood-affected areas, he said. He said relief and coordination centres were set up by the Army in flood-hit areas and so far, more than 136 helicopter sorties were dispatched for evacuation purposes.
Iftikhar said over 150 medical and relief camps have been established in which free medical treatment and food are being given to the victims. We have also distributed tents and rations in huge quantities, he said, adding that thousands of people stranded in several areas had been rescued.
According to the Met office, this year 20 to 22 per cent above normal rainfall was affected but instead, we saw over 190 per cent cumulative rain in Pakistan, he said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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