UN races to deliver aid to Pakistan amid deadly floods as PM visits lake poses new threat

The United Nations refugee agency rushed to provide much-needed aid on Monday to aid flood-hit Pakistan as the country’s prime minister headed south, where Lake Manchar’s rising waters caused a storm. new threat.

Two UNHCR planes have landed in the southern port city of Karachi, and two more are expected later in the day. A third plane, with aid from Turkmenistan, also landed in Karachi. While flooding in recent weeks has touched much of Pakistan, the southern province of Sindh, the capital of Karachi, has been hardest hit.

Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in the mountains of northern Pakistan have caused flooding that has affected 33 million people and killed at least 1,314 children, the National Disaster Management Authority said. including 458 children.

In response to the unfolding disaster, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” to overcome the crisis. He plans to visit the flooded areas on Friday.

On Sunday, engineers cut an embankment on either side of Lake Manchar in an attempt to release rising floodwaters to save the city of Sehwan and several nearby villages from the possibility of being destroyed by floodwaters, which have already damaged the city of Sehwan. damaged 1.6 million homes since mid-June.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the city of Sukkur on the swollen Indus River, from where they toured the flooded areas by helicopter. Governor Murad Ali Shah informed Sharif of the flood damage in Sindh.

Billions of damage, millions of people affected

According to government estimates, the floods affected more than 3.3 million people in the Muslim country of 220 million, and the devastation caused $10 billion in damage to the United States. The provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been hardest hit, and the majority of those killed were women and children.

Last week, the United States announced $30 million in aid for flood victims in Pakistan. On Monday, two members of the US Congress, Sheila Jackson Lee and Tom Suozzi, met with Pakistani officials and visited several affected areas, the government said.

A victim of unprecedented flooding caused by monsoon rains sits in front of a shop in Jaffarabad, Pakistan, on Monday. (Fareed Khan / The Associated Press)

At a ceremony in the capital, Islamabad, Pakistani President Arif Alvi presented the country’s second highest award to Jackson Lee, who along with Suozzi and US Embassy officials met the prime minister, according to a statement. government. It said Sharif told members of Congress that despite being one of the lowest carbon emitters, Pakistan is facing the brunt of climate change.

The statement said Ms. Lee conveyed her “deepest sympathies” to the flood victims and said Congress and the Biden administration would support Pakistan “after this tremendous challenge.”

‘No government help here’

Floodwaters are receding in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, but the situation is alarming across Sindh province. Hundreds of people have fled the Jaffarabad district after their homes were flooded.

Khadim Khoso, 45, recounts how he waded through chest-deep water, saying: “Our house is now flooded. He said he and his family had left the house when floodwaters brought snakes in.

“There’s no government help here,” he said. However, the authorities said they are doing their best to help flood compatriots.

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan also visited several flood-affected areas in Sindh on Monday, including the city of Sukkur. Last week, he was criticized by the government for his handling of a series of anti-government protests at a time of flood emergency for Pakistan.

Afghan refugees living in Pakistan were also affected by the floods. Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghans fleeing violence in their country over the past four decades and currently has around 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees.

More than 420,000 Afghan refugees are estimated to be in the worst-affected areas in Pakistan, living next door to their host communities.

VIEW | Pakistani aid workers struggle to keep up as floods intensify:

Pakistani aid workers struggle to keep up as floods intensify

Currently, 33 million people have been affected by floods in Pakistan. Aid agencies are warning the situation is about to get worse as water-borne diseases could claim more lives.

Also on Sunday, UNICEF delivered relief supplies, including medicines and water purifiers, as part of a swift United Nations appeal for $160 million to the United States to support the response to the pandemic. Pakistani floods. UNICEF is also calling for US$37 million for children and families.

“Floods have left children and families without access to basic necessities of life,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF representative in Pakistan.

Planes transporting aid from other countries are also expected late Monday in response to a call from Sharif, who has appealed to the international community to help Pakistan.

With two UNHCR aircraft, 38 aircraft received aid from other countries, including China, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

Elsewhere in the region, floods are also threatening crisis-stricken Sri Lanka, while rain has disrupted life in India’s tech hub, Bengaluru.

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