• Sherry stresses Pakistan has no money for recovery operations, urges developed world to accelerate funding before winter sets in
• WHO says country ‘on the verge of a public health disaster’; only $90m of $160m received so far

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is out of money to spend on rec­overy from recent devastating floods, Minister for Cli­m­ate Change Sherry Reh­man stressed on Tues­day, urg­ing immediate international help at the UN launch of an aid appeal as the country’s funding needs were rev­ised up by more than five times.

The United Nations incre­ased its aid appeal from $160 million to $816m as rising waterborne diseases and fear of growing hunger pose new risks after weeks of unprecedented flooding blamed on climate change.

“We have no space to give our economy any stimulus,” Ms Rehman, who led the Pakistan delegation, told the conference in Geneva aimed at seeking aid for Pakistan.

The revised appeal was based on an updated on-gro­und needs assessment of the flood situation in the country. The revised Pakis­tan Floods Response Plan (FRP) was shared with UN member states and humanitarian organisations in Geneva.

The minister urged the developed world to accelerate funding for the ongoing domestic climate-linked disaster, which she said had no parallel in history, adding that more than seven million people have been displaced from their homes.

“Just to pick up the pie­ces, we will literally need a new coalition. It can be done to save lives. One-third of all reported deaths and injured are children. We are still in the longest rescue and relief, and life-saving phase crossing 16 nightmarish weeks,” Ms Rehman said.

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman launches the revised humanitarian appeal in Geneva.—APP
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman launches the revised humanitarian appeal in Geneva.—APP

It was a “real race against time” for Pakistan, she said, adding: “Winter is fast approaching, people are left at the mercy of open skies, shelters have been made available for 598,000 while 7.9m are still scrambling for dry land.”

She said that recent research had shown how millions had been affected at one time. “The scale of the catastrophe is more than existential. We are gathered here to reboot your compassion simply because the numbers are too staggering to serve any country alone,” she said.

“Imagine rescuing, feeding, sheltering, resettling, sometimes what feels like three countries — it’s beyond resources for many of us,” she said.

‘Absolutely not enough’

Speaking on the occasion, World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the meeting Pakistan was “on the verge of a public health disaster”.

“The water has stopped rising, but the danger has not, we are on the verge of a public health disaster. Many more lives than were lost in the floods could be lost in the coming weeks if we don’t mobilise greater support for Pakistan,” he said.

Julien Harneis, the UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan, said the $816m target for the appeal was “absolutely not enough”, adding: “We are now entering a second wave of death and destruction due to the floods.”

“We need all of these funds and we need it quickly,” he said, adding that only $90m out of the $160m previous UN appeal had so far been received. He said the new funds would go towards food security, health care, clean drinking water, and sanitation.

Revised aid to help 9.5m people

According to the revised appeal document, the aid seeking prioritised multi-sectoral aid will target 9.5m flood-hit people against the total of 20.6m people in need of humanitarian assistance up to May next year. The food security and agriculture cluster requires the highest funding requirements, with $269m for four million affected people.

This increase reflects the rising needs and the unprecedented scale of destruction, which has affected 33m people, cost 1,700 lives and threatens hundreds of thousands more as a second disaster looms within the first one, the UN says.

The revised appeal focuses on the 34 most-affected districts across the country based on the number of houses damaged and destroyed, available projections of water-level changes, and the number of displaced people.

The fresh appeal sought $114.5m for the health sector and $91m for the nutrition sector to target 10.3m people in the affected areas.

As many as 12m affected people are in dire need of shelter, and the revised appeal has allocated an amount of $145.5m to initially target 3.5m people, whereas 12m people have been rendered without shelter.

Nearly 800,000 refugees are estimated to be hosted in more than 40 calamity-notified districts, including over 175,600 women, 194,000 girls and 206,000 boys. Two districts — Peshawar and Quetta — host nearly half of this refugee population.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2022

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