More international aid is urgently needed to respond to Pakistan’s worst floods in living memory, with one third of the entire country now submerged under water.
Islamic Relief says that the international community has a duty to step up its response to help people who are suffering at the forefront of global climate change.
More than 33 million people – one in seven Pakistanis – are now affected by the floods and some areas have seen almost eight times their normal rainfall. The situation is expected to get worse over the coming days, with further floods, outbreaks of water-borne diseases, and food running out in local markets.
Islamic Relief Worldwide’s CEO, Waseem Ahmad, is on the ground today in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest of Pakistan, overseeing relief efforts to provide lifesaving aid such as food and shelter. He says:
“People here are bearing the brunt of global climate change. Pakistan produces less than 1% of the world’s carbon footprint, but its people are suffering the biggest consequences. These are the worst floods that Pakistan has ever experienced and the scale of the devastation here is unimaginable.
“I’ve seen how whole villages have been swept away and submerged. I saw miles of nothing but water, where just a few days ago there were entire communities and people’s homes. I’ve met so many families who fled for their lives just minutes before the floods arrived and they have lost absolutely everything they owned – their homes are destroyed, their livestock are dead and their crops are ruined. They don’t know how they will feed themselves and their children.
“There are thousands of families lining the side of the main roads as it’s the highest ground they can find and where they hope they can get aid. It’s heart-breaking to see so many people set up shelters from a few sheets and scraps of tarpaulin, stranded without food and water.
“Aid is starting to get through, despite the challenges from the huge damage to infrastructure like roads and bridges – though many people remain cut off. Islamic Relief is distributing lifesaving aid like food, tents, cash and hygiene kits. But much more is needed.
“Emergency aid is desperately needed to save lives and livelihoods. But we also need to see real global action on the climate emergency. These disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe – countries like Bangladesh and South Africa have also suffered their worst flooding in decades this year, while the Horn of Africa is right now suffering an unprecedented drought. It’s time for the world to wake up and act on climate change.”
The floods have killed at least 1,136 people so far but the toll is expected to keep rising, and almost 1 million homes have been damaged or destroyed. With 2 million acres of crops ruined and 800,000 livestock killed, food is running out in many markets and many families face destitution. The country’s economic losses are expected to amount to billions of dollars.
Islamic Relief has launched a global funding appeal for the emergency and is aiming to support more than 200,000 people affected by the floods. The charity is responding in the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and has so far reached more than 20,000 people with tents, food, cash, hygiene kits and other vital aid.