In Pakistan, more than 1,100 dead due to a monsoon “unprecedented for thirty years”

In Pakistan, more than 1,100 dead due to a monsoon “unprecedented for thirty years”
Residents wade through a street flooded by monsoon rains, in Nowshera, Pakistan, August 29, 2022.

Tens of millions of Pakistanis continue to battle the country’s worst monsoon rains in three decades. According to the latest report, Monday August 29, from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the monsoon has killed at least 1,136 people since it began in June, including 75 in the last twenty-four hours.

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman spoke of a “crisis of unimaginable proportions” during an interview on Monday with Agence France-Presse (AFP). The monsoon rains, which began in June, are “unprecedented for thirty years”underlined the Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, while traveling through the affected regions of the North, while, in the South, the main river of the country, the Indus, threatens to burst its banks.

A huge relief operation is underway in the country, where international aid is slowly starting to arrive. The United Nations (UN) and the Pakistani government, which has declared a state of emergency, will officially launch an appeal on Tuesday for donations of 160 million dollars (as many euros) to finance emergency aid.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Pakistan ravaged by floods for three months

Bad weather worse than in 2010

Aerial view of a flooded residential area in Balochistan province, August 29, 2022.

More than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, have been affected by the floods, and nearly a million homes have been destroyed or severely damaged, the government said.

Pakistani officials attribute the devastating weather to climate change, saying their country is suffering the consequences of irresponsible environmental practices elsewhere in the world.

The authorities are still trying to reach isolated villages located in northern mountainous areas, which could further increase the toll. “It’s all just one big ocean, there’s no dry place to pump water from”noted Rehman, adding that the economic cost would be very high. Pakistan will need more than 10 billion dollars (as much in euros) to repair the damage caused by the floods and to rebuild the damaged infrastructure, said the Minister of Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, to AFP.

The monsoon, which usually lasts from June to September, is essential for the irrigation of plantations and the replenishment of water resources in the Indian subcontinent. But it also brings its share of drama and destruction each year.

According to Mme Rehman says the weather is worse than 2010, when 2,000 people were killed and almost a fifth of Pakistan was submerged by monsoon rains.

People displaced by the floods have found shelter in hastily established makeshift camps across Pakistan. “Life here is miserable”told AFP Fazal e Malik, housed with around 2,500 other people on the grounds of a school in Nowshera, in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Northwest). “I stink but there is no place to take a shower. There are no fans”he added.

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A vital dam

Pakistan received twice as much rainfall as usual, according to the meteorological service. In the southern provinces (Baluchistan and Sind), the most affected, the rains were more than four times higher than the average of the last thirty years.

Near Sukkur in Sindh, where a massive colonial-era dam on the Indus River is vital to prevent the disaster from getting worse, a farmer lamented seeing his rice fields lost. “Our plantations extended over 2,000 hectares, on which the best quality rice was sown and eaten by you and us”, Khalil Ahmed, 70, told AFP. ” It’s all over. »

The head of the dam assured that the bulk of the water flowing from the north of the country by the river should reach the work around September 5, but said he was confident in its ability to withstand the shock. The dam diverts the waters of the Indus to thousands of kilometers of canals, which constitute one of the largest irrigation networks in the world. But the farms thus served are now completely flooded.

Army troops distribute food and supplies to displaced people in a flood-hit area in Hyderabad, Pakistan, August 27, 2022.

Release of an envelope of more than 1 billion dollars

The NDMA claimed that more than 80,000 hectares of farmland had been ravaged and more than 3,400 kilometers of roads and 157 bridges washed away. The water is hampering relief operations, which are under the supervision of the Pakistani army.

These floods come at the worst time for Pakistan, whose economy was already in crisis. The International Monetary Fund gave its agreement on Monday to the resumption of a financial support program, essential for the country, and announced the release of an envelope of 1.1 billion dollars.

But it is already clear that Pakistan will need much more to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by the floods. Staple food prices are soaring and supply problems are already being felt in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab.

Read also: In Pakistan, monsoon rains of exceptional intensity have killed more than nine hundred people since the beginning of the summer

The World with AFP

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