It was believed that the 2010 floods were one of the worst Pakistan had ever experienced, where around 20 million people were affected; at the time, they were known as the “superfloods.” Now, almost a decade later, Pakistan is, yet again, dealing with floods which are considered to be one of the greatest humanitarian crises in Pakistan’s history. The United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, described the situation as a “ monsoon on steroids,” as a third of the country is currently underwater. Around 1 out 7 people have been affected. Other affected areas include Northwestern India and Bangladesh, however, they are not in a crisis situation like Pakistan.
The government of Pakistan has officially declared this to be a national emergency and is in desperate need of urgent aid from international countries. Currently, more than 33 million people are being affected by these floods. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) claims that by the end of August 2022 the death toll is likely to reach 1,200 people since mid-June. The NDMA further reports that around 5,000 kilometers of roads have been damaged, 10 million houses have been partially or entirely destroyed, and around 700,000 livestock have died. This is detrimental as in Pakistan, the majority of people are dependent on livestock and crops for their livelihood.
The provinces of Sindh, Southern Punjab, and Balochistan in Pakistan have been heavily affected by the recent floods. More specifically, the Southern part of Sindh is in desperate need of help; as of August 30th, 2022, 405 people including 160 children have passed away. 14 million people are affected in that area; of those, only 377,000 people received help and are now sheltered in camps. In Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, over 9 million people have been forced to leave their homes, but only 7,000 people are living in camps. To put this into perspective, imagine all Ontarians lost their homes, but only one town receives aid.
The question we’re all thinking about is how? How has Pakistan become a victim of these floods? The answer is that due to climate change’s strong effects, Pakistan’s weather patterns are no longer predictable. This year, the country faced unpredictable heatwaves, and provinces such as Sindh and Balochistan faced months-long droughts. Fast forward a few months later, Pakistan experienced unprecedented and record-breaking rainfall; Sindh and Balochistan are currently receiving 500% more precipitation than the average for their region. Although Pakistan contributes less than 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is the 8th most vulnerable country to climate change. According to Julien Harneis, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan, “the cause [of the floods in Pakistan] are international and so the response calls for international solidarity”.
The week of August 22nd,2022 The UN contributed 3 million dollars to Pakistan’s flood relief fund and announced a new flood relief plan for Pakistan. In addition, countries such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, the United States of America, and China have sent aid to Pakistan. However, much more help is still required to rebuild the country and provide relief to those impacted.
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