UN issues $160m flash appeal to help Pakistan cope with catastrophic floods

Published August 30, 2022
<p>Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan Julien Harneis at the Foreign Office in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Radio Pakistan</p>

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan Julien Harneis at the Foreign Office in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Radio Pakistan

The United Nations and the Pakistani government issued a flash appeal on Tuesday for $160 million to help the country cope with catastrophic floods that have killed more than 1,100 people, destroyed infrastructure and crops, and affected 33 million people.

The funds will provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency education, protection and health support, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video statement played at the Foreign Office (FO), calling the flooding a “colossal crisis”.


Key developments

  • NDMA says 1,136 have died since June 14
  • 75 dead, 59 hurt in last 24 hours
  • Provinces, particularly Sindh, suffer damage of over Rs355bn
  • High-level flooding likely in River Indus at Chashma, Taunsa, Guddu and Sukkur
  • Flooding to continue in River Kabul near Nowshera during the next 24 hours
  • UN issues $160m flash appeal to help flood victims in Pakistan
  • FM Bilawal says the country has become “ground zero” of global warming
  • PM Shehbaz says economic situation grim after catastrophic floods
  • Water levels receding in KP rivers
  • Ahsan Iqbal says it might take five years to rebuild
  • COAS Bajwa reaches Swat to monitor flood relief activities
  • Canada, Azerbaijan and UK pledge $5m, $2m and £1.5m in aid, respectively; US announces $30m in humanitarian assistance
  • PDMA releases Rs220m for relief measures in four KP districts

The aid, covering the initial six months of the crisis response, will also help to avoid outbreaks of cholera, and to provide food aid to mothers and their young children.

“Pakistan is awash in suffering. The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids — the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding,” Guterres said.

He branded the floods a “climate catastrophe”, saying South Asia was one of the world’s climate crisis hotspots. “People living in these hotspots are 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts,” the UN secretary-general said.

“As we continue to see more and more extreme weather events around the world, it is outrageous that climate action is being put on the back burner as global emissions of greenhouse gases are still rising, putting all of us — everywhere — in growing danger,” he added.

An entirely new level of climate-led catastrophe: Bilawal

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also spoke on the occasion, urging nations to extend their support to Pakistan in these challenging times.

 Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks during the launch of a United Nations flash appeal to garner funds for rehabilitation in the wake of devastating floods in Pakistan. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks during the launch of a United Nations flash appeal to garner funds for rehabilitation in the wake of devastating floods in Pakistan. — DawnNewsTV

The FM said the devastation witnessed in Pakistan following the recent spell of unprecedented rains and floods showed that the country had become “ground zero” of global warming, the “biggest existential threat” of this century.

“The current cycle of super flooding we see today is part of extreme weather patterns. Unprecedented levels of cloud bursts and torrential rains have triggered widespread devastation, urban flooding, river floods and landslides, resulting in the loss of human life, livelihoods and livestock,” Bilawal said.

He described this year’s “super floods” as a “climate calamity”, adding that “what we are facing today has been no above average monsoon.

“It is an entirely new level of climate-led catastrophe.”

The FM said rainfall in Pakistan since mid-June had been equivalent to three times the 30-year national average and the southern, central and northern regions of the country were worst affected.

He said it was feared the scale of destruction caused by this year’s floods would exceed the impact of 2010’s “mega or super floods”.

Sharing details about the extent of damage, he said 72 districts were declared calamity-hit, over 33 million people were affected — which is the size of a small country — over 1,000 people had lost their lives and several others were grappling with the loss of livelihoods and displacement.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and forced to spend days and nights … under a merciless sky and [the] lack of access to food, water and shelter are making life harder with each passing day,” he lamented.

Moreover, he said the damage to infrastructure and railway networks was impeding efforts to deliver aid and to shift people from flood-hit areas to safer locations.

The FM said the situation was likely to deteriorate further as more rains continued to pummel already flooded areas.

“For us, this is no less than a national emergency. This is a life-defining experience.”

The floods, the FM said, had taken a toll on the economy and stretched the country’s resources.

He said the government was cognisant of its responsibility and had earmarked $173 million to help flood-hit people through direct cash transfers. This, Bilawal elaborated, would be disbursed through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to 1.5 million families who will each receive Rs25,000 ($115) in immediate cash relief.

Separately, Rs5 billion ($23 million) had been allocated to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for relief activities, he added.

“The government is also providing Rs1 million ($4,615) in ex-gratia compensation to the next of kin of each deceased; Rs250,000 ($1,154) for injuries and partially damaged houses; and Rs500,000 ($2,308) for destroyed houses.”

The FM went on that in addition to the financial support, food packs, shelter items including tents, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) supplies were also being provided by NDMA and PDMAs.

“The government’s efforts are being supported by the Pakistani nation with people, civil society and humanitarian organizations stepping forward in a big way to complement the relief work with our characteristic generosity and philanthropic spirit,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund 2022 had also been established to facilitate people all over the country and overseas to contribute to the flood relief efforts.

But as was evident, the minister emphasised that the disaster was “colossal in its scale and devastation”.

“It has severely strained, even overwhelmed, both our resources and capacities. It has left millions vulnerable to health emergencies and a critical lack of basic survival needs,” he underscored, saying that the gap between the needs and the capacity to deliver timely was crucial at this point. Hence, it required urgent cooperation and support from the international community.

“We are profoundly grateful for the initial round of spontaneous solidarity and support from so many of our friends and partners from around the world. I would like to acknowledge and thank all our friends for the prompt financial support and relief assistance being provided by several countries as well as the United Nations, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.”

The FM then pointed out the need to expand and scale up the relief efforts and response. “For that, we are launching this “UN Flash Appeal” for Pakistan’s Flood Response Plan today.

“The appeal prioritizes focused interventions in areas of education; food security and agriculture; health; nutrition; protection; shelter and non-food items; and water, sanitation and hygiene. We also need assistance with livelihoods and livestock support as well as relief machinery and equipment,” he said.

Bilawal stressed that the country immediately needed shelter and tents, and mosquito nets — if they could be arranged and transported.

The appeal, he added, was expected to address only a part of the overall requirements and would complement the broader effort. The minister further urged the international community to give its full backing to the Flash Appeal to help people.

“I encourage you to contribute generously towards meeting the funding requirements of this Response Plan, and going beyond,” he requested.

Concluding his speech, the FM said that calamity faced by Pakistan was a “manifestation of the direct and unmitigated consequences of climate change”.

“As one of the small emitters on the planet, less than 1pc of the GHG (Global House Gases) sources, in fact, Pakistan is in the frontlines of the devastations caused by global warming,” he pointed out, adding that the megafloods were proof of how the world was vulnerable to the recurring climate shocks.

Such episodes were becoming all too frequent, and increasingly more devastating, he said.

Moreover, Bilawal hoped that the international community would step up and share the burden with those most affected and impacted countries by the rapidly changing climate and weather patterns.

PM Shehbaz calls country’s economic situation grim

Later in the day, in a briefing to international journalists, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the catastrophic situation in the country had painted a “grim picture” for the economy.

 Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif talks to international media persons in Islamabad today. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif talks to international media persons in Islamabad today. — DawnNewsTV

“I can say without any contradiction that this flood situation is the worse in history of Pakistan,” the premier regretted, explaining that million of people had been displaced and more than a 1,000 were killed including 300 children.

“Thousands are left injured and close to a million animals have gone […] standing crops have also been completely washed away.”

The prime minister said that in Sindh and Balochistan, date trees and crops such as cotton and rice have been destroyed. “People are shelterless, they need food, medical treatment, they need portable water and the government of Pakistan along with the provincial governments and the armed forces are fully committed and in action to rescue people, provide relief.”

Elaborating on the economic impact of the floods, PM Shehbaz said that the country was back to where it had started four months back.

“These floods have added to our problems and created a complicated situation. The damage to infrastructure spread across the country is severe,” he stressed.

Hundreds of bridges, flyovers and underpasses have been destroyed. This, the PM highlighted, was creating lack of access to basic needs of life. “I have never seen such destruction all my life.”

Subsequently, the prime minister said that the situation called for “immediate help and aid from global community”.

“I expect that as mainstream media are reflecting these devastating scenes, the response is becoming quicker and strong.”

He also thanked the neighbouring countries for the donations, both in goods and cash, but stressed that more was needed.

After the meeting, the premier tweeted that the international community, particularly the developed world, should not leave developing countries like Pakistan at the mercy of climate change.

“If it is us today, it can be somebody else tomorrow. The threat of climate change is real, potent and staring us in the face,” he added.

Aid begins to flow in as more countries announce funds

Power Minister Khurram Dastgir received relief items from China for flood affectees at Karachi airport. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force dispatched two Y-20 cargo planes earlier today to provide emergency humanitarian supplies, including 3,000 tents.

Radio Pakistan reported that the first flight from the United Arab Emirates carrying flood relief assistance arrived at Rawalpindi’s Noor Khan Air Base.

The relief items include food, medical supplies and tents for flood affectees.

Meanwhile, the United States announced $30m in humanitarian assistance for flood relief efforts.

“To bring help to where it is most needed, we will work closely with local partners and Pakistani authorities to provide urgently needed food support, safe water, sanitation and hygiene, financial help, and shelter to those seeking relief,” said US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome.

Similar announcements also followed suit as Australian Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong said that Australia would provide $2m in urgent humanitarian assistance.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif also received a telephone call from Charles Michel, President of the European Council.

Michel offered his condolences on the loss of precious lives and material damage as a result of devastating floods in Pakistan.

PM Shehbaz thanked the EU President for his expression of solidarity and appreciated the EU’s support of 2.15m euros for flood affectees in Pakistan.

Separately, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that six military aircraft from Turkey had arrived in Karachi carrying relief goods. “Three military aircraft from UAE have arrived at Noorkhan Air Base Rawalpindi, while two aircraft from China will reach Karachi today carrying 3,000 tents.

“Tarpaulins and shelters from Japan will reach Karachi today,” it stated, adding that Canada, Azerbaijan and UK had also pledged $5m, $2m and £1.5m in aid, respectively.

Later, in a tweet, PM Shehbaz appreciated and thanked Turkey for mobilising massive relief efforts for Pakistan during the difficult times.

He also thanked China’s President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang for the financial assistance to flood-affected people of Pakistan. “This flood is like no other in terms of its intensity and spread. China has been there for us at the most difficult times and we greatly value its support,” he added.

Pakistan needs ‘$10 billion’ for repair and rehabilitation

Earlier, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan needs more than $10 billion to repair and rebuild infrastructure damaged by monsoon rains.

“Massive damage has been caused to infrastructure — especially in the areas of telecommunications, roads, agriculture and livelihoods,” he told AFP.

 Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal speaks with Reuters during an interview in Islamabad on August 29, 2022. — Reuters
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal speaks with Reuters during an interview in Islamabad on August 29, 2022. — Reuters

Iqbal’s statements are a reiteration of an assessment he shared with Reuters a day earlier, where he said he believed that the cost of the damage caused by floods would be “huge”.

“So far, [a] very early, preliminary estimate is that it is big, it is higher than $10 billion,” Iqbal said, adding that there was damage to almost nearly one million houses“.

“People have actually lost their complete livelihoods,” he continued, rating the recent floods worst than those that hit Pakistan in 2010.

The minister said it might take five years to rebuild and rehabilitate the nation, while in the near term it will be confronted with acute food shortages.

Read: The roadmap for response to flood emergency

Separately, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has also estimated that the economic impact of floods would be at least $10bn, which roughly translates to three per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

The estimates have come as Pakistan reels from the impact of torrential rains and unprecedented floods, which have claimed over 1,000 lives, affected more than 33 million — almost 15pc of the country’s 220m population — people and submerged most of the country.

Moreover, the country faces an imminent food security crisis, with crops damaged on a large scale and livestock swept away.

COAS in Swat

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is visiting flood-affected areas in Swat today to get a briefing about evacuation and relief operations in Kumrat, Kalam and surrounding areas, according to the ISPR.

The statement from the military’s public affairs wing said the army had been sending relief goods to affected areas while more than 50 medical camps had been established in flood-hit districts.

A total of 82 helicopter sorties had been conducted in flood-affected areas of the country for rescue/relief operations out of which 27 helicopters evacuated 316 stranded individuals and delivered 23.7 tons of ration and relief items in the last 24 hours.

“The Army Flood Relief Coordination Center is functional under the Headquarters Army Air Defence Command with a mandate to coordinate rescue and relief efforts in sync with stakeholders at Army level,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PMDA) said at least eight people lost their lives in floods across the province in the last 24 hours.

In a statement, the PDMA said an additional Rs220m had been released for relief and rehab measures in four districts of the province.

In Quetta, the repair work of the 132-KV Sibi-Quetta transmission line had been started on an emergency basis, GM Technical PTCL Shaukat Khawaja Khel said in a statement.

He said the electricity will be restored in all affected areas in three to four days. “The landline and internet services have partially been restored in Quetta.”

The official said the gas supply in Bibi Nani area was affected for a week.

‘High-level’ flooding likely in River Indus

Meanwhile, the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) has said that River Indus may attain a very high flood level at Taunsa while very high-level flooding was likely to continue in River Kabul during the next 24 hours.

According to the state-run APP, River Indus was flowing at “high flood” levels in the Chashma, Taunsa, Guddu, and Sukkur reaches. At Kalabagh and Kotri, the river was at medium flood levels.

Separately, flood flows in the Indus at Tarbela have receded and the river was now discharging normal flows. Other main rivers of the Indus River System i.e Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej also continued to flow in normal flow conditions.

The FCC added that flood flows in River Kabul were also subsiding and it was flowing at “low flood” levels near Warsak. In Nowshera, however, the river was still flowing at “very-high flood levels” with a discharge of 212,000 cusecs.

Destruction in Sindh

According to a Dawn report, of all the provinces, Sindh, in particular, has suffered damages of over $1.6bn (Rs355bn) as all major crops have been destroyed.

While a survey and mapping at the national level for assessing the flood damage is yet to be carried out, Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Agriculture Manzoor Wassan told Dawn that heavy rains had destroyed cotton, rice, and date crops, causing a loss of Rs109.347bn in the province.

“Besides, chilli and other crops have also been destroyed by rain,” he added.

Wasan said almost the entire cotton crop standing on over 1.4 million acres, rice standing on 602,120 acres and dates on 101,379 acres had been destroyed.

“Almost 50pc of the sugarcane crop on 729,582 acres has also been damaged,” he said, adding that almost 50pc of sesame, tomato, chilli, Kharif vegetables and onion crops had also been destroyed.

To a question, he said that there would be a great deal of difficulty in sowing wheat, which was due in the next two months. “The flood water is not expected to be completely drained out of the farmers’ fields in two months,” he explained.

Wasan further said in order to compensate farmers struggling in the face of the devastation caused for floods and rains, revenue charges (abiana) would be waived for Kharif season 2022, the possibility of giving date growers case compensation at 50pc of their crop value and a compensation package for the rest of the crops might be announced on a 50pc input cost basis.

To a question, he said that agricultural loans provided to the growers during Kharif 2022 in rain-affected areas might be rescheduled and the interest on the loans might be waived.

To mitigate food shortfalls, Miftah Ismail has said the country could consider importing vegetables from India.

‘World has an obligation to help Pakistan’

Meanwhile, the federal government has decided to form a National Flood Response and Coordination Centre to provide a proper institutional response to the calamity, which will comprise federal ministers, representatives of the armed forces, chief ministers and experts.

Editorial: It’s unfair that our people are paying the price for damage wreaked on climate by rich nations

Pakistan has appealed for international help and some countries have already sent in supplies and rescue teams.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told Reuters on Sunday he hoped financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund would provide financial aid, taking the economic cost of the floods into account.

However, Iqbal told Reuters that any formal requests for financial help would need to wait until the scale of the damage was known, something Pakistan was now evaluating with partners, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Iqbal also said the world owed Pakistan, which was a victim of climate change caused by the “irresponsible development of the developed world.” The world had an obligation to help Pakistan cope with the effects of man-made climate change, he said.

“Our carbon footprint is lowest in the world,” he said. “The international community has a responsibility to help us, upgrade our infrastructure, to make our infrastructure more climate resilient, so that we don’t have such losses every three, four, five years,” he said.

“Those areas which used to receive rainfall aren’t receiving rainfall and those areas which used to receive very mild rains are receiving very heavy rainfall,” he added.

Iqbal said 45pc of cotton crops had been washed away with early wheat sowing in southern Pakistan also affected, as large swaths of land remained inundated with flood water, and severe damage to rice fields as well as vegetable and fruit crops.

Pakistan’s finance ministry in its latest economic outlook update has warned of the impact on critical seasonal crops, particularly cotton, which is key for Pakistan’s textile sector that makes up more than 60pc of the country’s exports.


Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that Azerbaijan’s contribution is $1.2 million, when it is actually $2 million. The error is regretted.

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