• PM urges nation to donate as ‘hundreds of billions’ required to help flood-hit regions
• EU announces Rs76m for ‘crucial humanitarian assistance’ as death toll reaches 830
• Sherry says 30 Sindh districts submerged, warns flooding in Indus will displace thousands more
ISLAMABAD: As massive floods across Pakistan have so far claimed at least 830 lives since July, the government on Tuesday decided to launch an international appeal seeking funds for relief and rehabilitation of flood-hit people and restoration of damaged infrastructure.
This decision was taken during an urgent briefing on the flood emergency in Pakistan by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), which was summoned to reassess the damage done by floods and to apprise the development partners and donors of the magnitude of the crisis.
In addition to looking outward for assistance to mitigate the devastation caused by abnormal monsoon downpour, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also appealed to the nation to extend help to the flood-stricken people as the government required hundreds of billions to rehabilitate the flood victims.
“The current relief operation needs Rs 80 billion and hundreds of billions of rupees also required to overcome the losses as well as for rehabilitation of the victims,” the prime minister said in a video message.
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Sharing details about the relief announced by the government, the premier said the government was distributing Rs37.2 billion as cash relief whereas funds to the tune of Rs5 billion had “immediately” been released to the NDMA to accelerate the rescue efforts.
PM Sharif said Rs25,000 cash assistance was being paid to the flood victims. Similarly, the government would also provide compensation of Rs1 million to the families of the deceased, along with additional support for the injured and damages caused to the houses, he added.
Appeal for funds
The participants of the NDMA meeting chaired by the planning minister, Ahsan Iqbal, were told that so far the floods had claimed 830 lives, left at least 1,348 injured, and rendered thousands of people across the country homeless.
During the meeting, the planning minister asked the governments of Balochistan and Sindh – which are the two worst-hit provinces – to formally requisition the military for help in dealing with the disasterous floods.
Speaking at the meeting, Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman called for immediate humanitarian and rescue efforts in the wake of devastating floods as she admitted Pakistan was not able to cope with the situation on its own.
“Right now we are in the seventh spell of a torrential monsoon that has left thousands homeless, 830 dead and 1,348 injured. From Balochistan, the monsoon system has moved to Sindh where 30 districts are underwater. The magnitude of it can be accessed from the fact that it has rained more than 395 per cent in Sindh and 379 per cent in Balochistan, above the average rainfall.”
The senator compared the current calamity with super floods in 2010 that had wreaked havoc in Pakistan and said at least 30 districts of Sindh, almost the entire Balochistan, and south Punjab were facing an unprecedented humanitarian disaster. “People are adrift, livestock and crops are damaged. It is a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented monsoon proportions.”
Ms Rehman added the provincial and federal governments were incapable of dealing with the situation given the magnitude of the disaster and urged international partners to mobilise assistance. “The Indus is in high floods where the flow of over 600,000 cusecs is expected to cross Guddu and then Sukkur barrages on August 23 and 24, which will bring all the katcha area along the Indus under water, displacing thousands of families.”
At least 216 lives have been lost, an estimated 1,500,000 mud houses have been damaged and crops cultivated on 1,989, 868 acres have been completely destroyed in Sindh, the senator added while sharing details about the damages.
Rs76m aid from EU
Meanwhile, the European Union agreed to provide Rs76 million for crucial humanitarian assistance which will focus on addressing the urgent needs of those most affected in some of the hardest-hit districts of Jhal Magsi and Lasbela.
“The devastating floods have left a trail of destruction in Pakistan, causing many to suffer the loss of their homes, livelihoods, and belongings,” said Taheeni Thammannagoda, who oversees EU humanitarian programmes in Pakistan. “The EU funding will help get vital assistance to the most vulnerable people to support them during this hard time,” a press release by the EU mission in Islamabad added.
Balochistan toll reaches 232
Meanwhile, thousands of families remained stranded in Balochistan amid heavy rains and flash floods that swept away houses and inundated entire settlements. The province remained disconnected from the rest of the country as authorities concerned failed to restore the road and rail links connecting Balochistan to other provinces.
As the authorities warned of further rainfall, the death toll due to the deluge hit 232 amid reports that dozens who had been washed away in hill torrents remained missing.
In Dera Bugti, 207 houses were completely damaged and 147 were partially damaged. A vehicle with six passengers on board was swept away near Sui, resulting in the death of one person. Three persons were rescued while the whereabouts of the remaining two remained unknown.
The traffic between Pakistan-Afghanistan at Chaman and Pakistan-Iran at Taftan also witnessed disruption due to the heavy downpour that damaged highways connecting the country with its neighbours. According to official sources, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Sohbatpur, Jhal Magsi, Kalat, Bolan, and Lasbela districts were facing heavy floods.
Saleem Shahid from Quetta; Amin Ahmed and Jamal Shahid from Islamabad also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2022