Monday 5, June 2023

‘Pakistan is awash in suffering’

Time News Desk: The United Nations yesterday appealed for $160 million to help Pakistan as army helicopters rescued stranded families and dropped food packages into inaccessible areas following "epochal" rains and flooding.

The historic deluge, mainly triggered by abnormal monsoon rains, has killed more than 1,100 people, affected 33 million, and destroyed homes, businesses, infrastructure and crops.

"Pakistan is awash in suffering," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message to launch the appeal in Islamabad and Geneva.

"The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids - the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding."

He said the scale of the country's needs with millions forced from their homes and schools, health facilities and livelihoods destroyed by the climate catastrophe required the world's collective and prioritised attention.

Nearly 300 stranded people, including some tourists, were airlifted in northern Pakistan, a state-run disaster management agency said in a statement, adding that over 50,000 people had been moved to two government shelters in the northwest.

People complained at the shelters.

"Life is very painful here," 63 year-old villager Sadiq Hussain told Reuters.

He said he and his family had to bear it all just because, "we lost everything."

Hussain said his entire village on the bank of Kabul river had escaped to safety. He was housed in the camps together with his parents and five children.

"Diarrhoea and fever is common here," he said of the camp, adding no sufficient medical assistance was available. He said he had already shifted his diabetic mother to a relative after she spent a harsh night at the camp.

"Life is bitter here," said Sidra Bibi who fled the same village as Hussain's.

Early estimates put the damage from the floods at more than $10 billion, the government has said, adding that the world had an obligation to help Pakistan cope with the effects of man-made climate change.

Pakistan estimates the floods have affected more than 33 million people, or more than 15 percent of its 220 million population.


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