Flood-hit Pakistan appeals for urgent aid from international community


ISLAMABAD:  Pakistan on Saturday made a desperate plea to the international community to ensure that their resolve to support the country remains undeterred, as the cataclysmic floods, similar to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in the US in 2005, has killed over 1,200 people and displaced more than 33 million.

Pakistan is struggling to respond to the floods given their unprecedented magnitude.

Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in northern mountains brought floods that have killed at least 1,265 people since June 14, with 57 casualties reported during the last 24 hours, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The total number of people who have suffered injuries stands at 12,577, it said.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday at the National Flood Response and Coordination Centre alongside military officials, Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal said the federal government called on the international community to ensure that their resolve for support to Pakistan remains undeterred as the scale of the disaster warrants a major humanitarian response, Geo TV reported.

The press conference was held after the National Flood Response Coordination Centre held its first meeting to review flood response.

The Pakistan government has set up a nodal disaster agency, the National Flood Response Coordination Centre, to provide an institutional response to the devastating floods.

Due to internal displacement, more than 500,000 people are currently living in relief camps across Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Punjab provinces, the report said.

“Pakistan bore the brunt of 500 per cent more rainfall compared to a 30-year average,” the minister said.

“The scale of the calamity faced by Pakistan can be matched to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in the US that rendered the world’s super power helpless,” Iqbal said.

Hurricane Katrina was a large and destructive hurricane that caused over 1,800 fatalities and USD 125 billion in damages in August 2005, in the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas in the US.

It was the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record to make landfall in the US.

The minister said that nearly 5,000km of roads were damaged, with the situation the bleakest in Balochistan province.

Pakistan’s farmers are still counting their losses from the devastating floods that have put a third of the country under water, and wiped-out acres of fertile agricultural land.

Farmers rue that the natural calamity has put the country back by 50 years.

UN chief Antonio Guterres will arrive in Pakistan on September 9 for a solidarity visit and inspect flood-hit regions, after a USD 160 million emergency plan was launched by the UN and the Pakistan government to provide relief to millions of people living in flood relief camps.

On Saturday, a French aircraft carrying relief goods landed in Islamabad on Saturday and was received by Minister for National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel.

This was followed by the ninth flight from the United Arab Emirates and the first from Uzbekistan.

The US has announced USD 30 million worth of aid for the flood victims earlier this week.

Meanwhile, two members of the US Congress, Sheila Jackson and Tom Suzy, were expected to arrive in Pakistan on Sunday to visit the flood-hit areas and meet officials.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen Iftikhar Babar said rescuers supported by the Pakistan Army were continuing rescue and relief operations.

“Army set up 147 relief camps across the country [to facilitate the flood victims],” Geo TV quoted him as saying. He said that 50,000 people were given relief in the camps.

Pakistan Air Force rescued over 1,521 people trapped in the floods, he added.



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