UNITED NATIONS: The arrival of winter has intensified the needs of more than 20 million flood victims in Pakistan, said a UN official while reminding the international community that more resources are urgently needed to deal with this humanitarian crisis.

“Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that critical humanitarian needs in Pakistan remain, even as floodwaters recede, and the needs are intensified by the arrival of winter,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said at a news briefing on Friday.

“To date, only 23 percent of the $816 million Floods Response Plan has been received,” he said. “More resources are urgently needed.”

In an update of the post-flood situation, the spokesman told reporters in New York that even as flood waters receded, more than 20 million people continued to depend on humanitarian aid, adding that reconstruction efforts were just beginning in some areas. “To date, in support of the government response, our humanitarian partners have reached more than 4.7 million people with aid since the onset of the flood” in August this year, he said. He pointed out that some 2.6 million people had received food assistance while UN’s humanitarian partners had also helped 125,000 children resume their education, including through more than 500 temporary learning centres.

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“Schools, however, remain inaccessible for more than two million children,” he warned.

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated only $700 million to support millions of people in 40 countries. This included response to weather-related emergencies in Pakistan.

A World Bank report, released earlier this month, noted that the 2022 Pakistan floods affected about 33 million people directly and displaced more than eight million people. Afghan refugees living in Pakistan have also been severely affected by the floods.

An analysis of telecommunications data, however, suggests that almost all household migrated internally, and many of them have returned.

The World Bank report pointed out that climate change has also contributed to rapid deglaciation worldwide. “Melting glaciers coupled with shifting patterns of precipitation and variability in runoff could increase the risk of floods,” the report warned.

“Future displacement is particularly likely where storms and flooding hazards combine with high vulnerability and low adaptive capacity.”

Data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre demonstrates that floods and storms have been the major sources of internal disaster displacement over the past years, forcing close to 300 million displacements in 200 countries and territories from 2008 to 2021. Last year alone, 21.6m persons were displaced due to these hazards.

The World Bank report noted the record devastation wrought by the floods in Pakistan offered the ideal incentive for migrants to boost official remittance flows in 2022, especially because the destination market conditions in the GCC were highly favourable.

“Yet, unlike the experience of the pandemic when informal channels had collapsed, in 2022 they were prolific. Pakistani migrants seem to prefer informal over formal remittance channels in assisting their families at home.”

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2022

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