Pakistan warns “monster monsoon” season worsened by “climate catastrophe” could leave a third of the country underwater

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Islamabad – Authorities in Pakistan have issued an emergency appeal for international humanitarian aid as the 2022 “monster monsoon” season kills rose over 1,000. Floods from weeks of torrential rain have left hundreds of thousands of people homeless in the South Asian country, which was already reeling from a deep economic crisis.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari warned Sunday evening that the flooding caused by this year’s extreme monsoon rains, in addition to meltwater flowing down from Pakistan’s glaciers, would exacerbate the country’s economic problems and require financial aid.

“I have not seen the destruction of this shell. I find it very difficult to put into words,” he said. “It’s overwhelming.”

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A man pushes his child through a flooded area after heavy monsoon rains in the Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, August 29, 2022.

ABDUL MAJEED/AFP/Getty


According to Bhutto-Zardari, at least 30 million people of the total population of 220 million Pakistanis have been affected in one way or another by the floods.

Lives and homes lost in the floods

At least 1,061 people have died in the flooding that began with the seasonal monsoon rains in mid-June, and that toll is expected to rise further as many communities in the mountainous northern regions are cut off by flood-swollen rivers that washed away roads and bridges.

Army helicopters struggled to haul people cut off by raging currents north, where steep hills and valleys make for treacherous flying conditions.

Many rivers in the region — which is a picturesque tourist destination in the absence of monsoon rains — have burst their banks, wiping out dozens of buildings, including a 150-room hotel that collapsed in a raging torrent.

The swollen Swat River forced tens of thousands of people in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to flee their homes and seek shelter in relief camps in government buildings. But with so many displaced, provincial government spokesman Kamran Bangash said many people simply camped by the roadside, desperate to avoid the flooding wherever they could find higher ground.

Bangash said some 330,000 people had been evacuated from villages in Charsadda and Nowshehra districts alone. The devastation was also intense in the southern provinces of Balochistan and Sindh.

Pakistan flood death toll passes 1000
Pakistani flood victims wade through floodwaters after monsoon rains in Matiari, Sindh province, Pakistan, August 29, 2022.

Shakeel Ahmad/Anadolu Agency/Getty


Bhutto-Zardari said at least 1 million tents were among the most urgent relief items to temporarily house homeless people due to the flooding.

‘Climate disaster’ leaves Pakistan under water

Pakistan’s climate minister has warned that a third of the country could be under water by the time this year’s “monster monsoon” flood has subsided. Pakistan is on average affected by three or four periods of monsoon rains per season, but this year has been poor. The country is currently in the throes of the eighth period of relentless rainfall of the summer.

“We could well have a fourth or a third of Pakistan under water,” Sherry Rehman, a Pakistani senator and federal climate change minister, said Sunday.

PAKISTAN WEATHER CLIMATE FLOODS
Residents gather along a road damaged by flooding after heavy monsoon rains in the Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, August 29, 2022.

ABDUL MAJEED/AFP/Getty


She said Pakistan was experiencing a “serious climate catastrophe”.

“We are currently at the zero point on the frontline of extreme weather events, in a relentless cascade of heat waves, wildfires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake eruptions, flooding and now the monster monsoon of the decade is building non-stop. havoc across the country,” Rehman said.

She warned that the warming climate is accelerating the rate at which glaciers in Pakistan’s mountainous north are melting, exacerbating the impact of the heavy rain. Pakistan has 7,532 glaciers, more than anywhere else outside the polar regions.

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A photo taken on May 7, 2022, shows a bridge partially collapsing due to flash flooding caused by a glacial lake eruption, in the village of Hassanabad, in Pakistan’s northern Hunza district.

AFP via Getty


Officials say Pakistan is unfairly bearing the consequences of irresponsible environmental practices elsewhere in the world. The country ranks eighth on the Germanwatch organization’s global climate risk index, which lists countries most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change.

“Pakistan is facing increasingly devastating climate-induced droughts and floods. Despite producing less than 1% of the world’s carbon footprint, the country is suffering the effects of the passivity of the worldShabnam Baloch, the IRC’s country director in Pakistan, said in a statement Monday.

But domestic problems don’t help matters. Corruption, poor planning and violations of local regulations have caused thousands of buildings to erect in areas subject to seasonal flooding.

A cry for help

Bhutto-Zardari said on Sunday that the floods would take an even greater economic toll on Pakistan than the coronavirus pandemic, and he made it clear that help was needed as soon as possible.

Many of this year’s crops have been wiped out, he noted, and in a country where so many people rely on agriculture as a livelihood means, “this will naturally have an effect on the overall economic situation.”

The nonprofit International Rescue Committee announced an urgent appeal for funding and said on Monday that more than 30 million people were “in dire need” as a result of the flooding.

“Since mid-June, monsoons have destroyed 3,000 kilometers of roads, 130 bridges and 495,000 houses. Sindh and Balochistan provinces have seen 784% and 500% more rain than average, with more monsoon rains expected in the coming weeks. With 4 million acres of crops damaged and nearly 800,000 livestock killed, the IRC anticipates a sharp increase in food insecurity and a serious impact on the economy,” the aid agency said.

Pakistani officials echoed those concerns and made it clear that they would need help everywhere.

“I would expect that not only the International Monetary Fund, but also the international community and international agencies really understand the level of devastation,” Foreign Minister Bhutto-Zardari said.

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Humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates is unloaded at Nur Khan Airbase, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Aug. 29, 2022, to help victims of the flooding caused by a “monster monsoon” season.

Handout/Pakistan Ministry of Information and Broadcasting


The US and UK governments have each pledged about $1 million in emergency aid, and the first foreign aid began trickling into Pakistan on Monday on flights from Turkey and the UAE.

Pakistan was already experiencing high inflation, a depreciating currency and a cash shortfall, and Bhutto-Zardari said he hoped the flood emergency would convince the IMF board this week to release $1.2 billion as part of the next tranches in an already ongoing national rescue program of the Global Rescue Fund.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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