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Over 20 million people became homeless in floods in Pakistan

by Tasnim News

Pakistan declared a state of emergency and appealed for international help after prolonged monsoon rains killed nearly 1,000 people and left over 20 million homeless.

Pakistan is grappling with its worst natural disaster in over a decade — flooding that is disrupting the lives of millions — and experts say the country’s political turmoil is complicating the response.

Monsoon rains that started in mid-June have wreaked havoc across several provinces — Sindh, Balochistan, southern Punjab and southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Flash floods in July and August have affected at least 4.2 million people, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), with the death toll approaching 1,000 and over 13,000 injured. The country’s climate change minister put the number of affected “in different ways” far higher, at over 30 million.

Over 3,000 kilometers of roads have been damaged and around 670,000 houses have collapsed.

In Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, all telecommunications services have been suspended, cutting off a city of more than 2 million residents.

Mohammad Anwar is a resident of the Jaffarabad district of Balochistan, where he lives in a settlement of mud houses. “People have been living under the open sky since all the mud houses have been demolished by recent torrents and those standing are not livable, because they can collapse anytime,” Anwar told Nikkei Asia.

The Rajanpur district of south Punjab has also been badly hit. Civil society organizations have stepped up to provide relief. Social media in Pakistan is full of calls to donate to different volunteer groups helping flood victims in far-flung areas of Sindh and Balochistan.

Meanwhile, experts say Pakistan’s struggling government is in no shape to address the ongoing emergency.

Mosharraf Zaidi, chief executive of Tabadlab, a think tank in Islamabad, said the national and provincial governments struggle to meet even basic needs. Emergencies or disasters thus appear to go largely unanswered despite some efforts to strengthen resiliency.

The government, which is dealing with an economic crisis and dwindling currency reserves, admits that providing relief and the means to rebuild in flood-affected areas is beyond its capacity.

“The current relief operation needs 80 billion rupees ($364.4 million),” Prime Minister Sharif said in a video message, adding that “hundreds of billions of rupees [are] also required to overcome the losses as well as for rehabilitation of the victims.”

He urged the international community to help Pakistan in its hour of need.

Responding to the appeal, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other organizations have committed immediate assistance of more than $500 million.

Moreover, the European Union has announced humanitarian aid worth 350,000 euros ($348,000); the Red Cross Society of China has announced $300,000 in emergency cash, and the U.S. has offered $1 million.

Tasnim News
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