Historic monsoon rains and flooding in Pakistan have affected more than 30 million people during the last few weeks, the country’s climate change minister said on Thursday.
Pakistan has urged the international community to help with relief efforts as it struggled to cope with the aftermath of torrential rains that have triggered massive floods since last month, killing more than 900 people.
“Thirty-three million have been affected in different ways. The final homeless figure is being assessed,” climate minister Sherry Rehman said.
In a news conference on Thursday, Rehman described the floods as a “humanitarian disaster of epic proportions” that had left thousands without food and shelter.
“We need to ask not just the provinces and Islamabad, it is beyond the capacity of any one administration or government to rehabilitate and even manage the rescue and relief,” she added.
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal separately said 30 million people had been affected, a figure that would represent about 15 percent of the South Asian country’s population.
Heavy rains have triggered flash floods and wreaked havoc across much of Pakistan since mid-June, leaving 903 dead and about 50,000 people homeless, the country’s disaster agency said on Wednesday.
Thousands whose homes were swept away now live in tents, kilometres away from their inundated villages and towns, after being rescued by soldiers, local disaster workers and volunteers.
The National Disaster Management Authority said so far 126 people were killed in flood-related incidents in the past 48 hours, with most of the victims being women and children. The flooding has further exacerbated Pakistan’s economic crisis.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif issued an appeal on Wednesday from abroad, urging philanthropists to help flood-affected areas in Pakistan.
A vast majority of the damage is in the southern province of Sindh.
“Brother, the rain has not stopped for the past three months … We are living in a rickshaw with our children because the roof of our mud house is leaking,” a woman who declined to be named said from Hyderabad, Sindh’s second-largest city.
Rehman said Sindh had received “784 percent” more rain this month than the monthly average in August.
OCHA also warned alerts had been issued for floods, river overflows, and landslides in several areas of Pakistan, and heavy rainfall was forecast for the next two days, too, over most of the country.
Seated with three of her children in the rickshaw she said, “Where can we go? The gutters are overflowing, and our courtyard is filled up with sewage. Our houses and alleys have turned into a floating garbage bin.”
Meanwhile, the southwest province of Balochistan received 496 percent rain above the 30-year average.
“This water is high now not only on both sides of the Indus in southern Pakistan but has triggered a new flash flood phenomenon where it’s raining in 7-8 unprecedented cycles, superflooding areas from a merciless sky,” she said in a tweet.
Source – AlJazeera