Pakistan’s premier urges global aid for 20M flood victims
MUNIR AHMED: Pakistan’s prime minister on Wednesday urged the international community to give his country desperately needed aid to help 20 million flood victims survive the harsh winter, as the country struggles to cope with the humanitarian aftermath of vast floods earlier in the year.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif made the emotional appeal for help in arranging food, tents and other essential items for the millions of people the deadly floods had displaced ahead of an international donors conference in Geneva on Jan. 9, 2023.
“Even today, 20 million victims of the floods need urgent humanitarian assistance,” Sharif said in televised comments during a visit to Kot Diji in the southern province of Sindh, an area widely devastated by the inundations.
Cash-strapped Pakistan was already facing a serious financial crisis before the heavy monsoon rains hit in mid-June. The rains triggered unprecedented floods that at one point submerged a third of the country’s territory.
Sharif said Pakistan was suffering from climate change-induced floods, despite having a negligible share in global carbon emissions.
The U.N. in Geneva will co-host the “International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan” to raise much-needed funds for the victims of last summer’s wide-ranging floods that killed 1,739 people, destroyed 2.2 million homes and affected 33 million Pakistanis.
Sharif said he plans to travel to Switzerland to lay out for the world community the ordeal of the flood victims, tens of thousands of whom are still living in open areas.
Sharif said nine million children are among those flood survivors who were “desperately waiting for help.” His government was trying to help flood victims with its limited resources, he said.
Sharif added that snow has started falling in some of the flood-hit areas in the northwest and southwestern Baluchistan province, adding more misery to the plight of flood survivors.
“People living in such areas are looking toward the sky for help. They are waiting for tents and aid,” he said.
Sharif claimed Pakistan’s government was using all its resources to ensure that flood victims return to normal life by rebuilding destroyed homes and communities. In recent weeks, many of the flood survivors have returned to their villages.
The floods also destroyed much of the country’s crops. Pakistan says the inundations caused up to $40 billion in damages to its economy.