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Flood misery in Pakistan worsens

09 September 2022

Tearfund helps to raise £16 million — but more needed as conditions worsen


Residents in the Swat district of north-western Pakistan emerge in a market street after the floodwaters recede

Residents in the Swat district of north-western Pakistan emerge in a market street after the floodwaters recede

TEARFUND has helped to raise £16 million to support the 33 million people affected by climate-induced flooding in Pakistan. But, as conditions in the country worsen, further international support is needed, the Christian charity has urged.

Since June, more than 1300 people, including more than 450 children, have been killed, and more than 6000 have been injured, by devastating floods.

Over the past month, record monsoon rains have deposited more than five times the 30-year average for rainfall in some provinces, the United Nations reports. Floodwaters have covered more than 95,000 square miles of land.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that more than 6.4 million people are “in dire need” of humanitarian aid. Whole villages have been cut off by the floodwaters that make it difficult or impossible for humanitarian aid to reach these areas. Further heavy rainfall is expected over the coming weeks in areas that are already submerged. Aid agencies have predicted a rise in waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dengue, or malaria.

An emergency appeal launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee of charities, which include Tearfund, has raised £16 million; the UK Government has matched donations, pound for pound, up to £5 million.

Tearfund’s country director for Pakistan, Jonathan Johnson, said: “We are concerned that people who have survived the initial floodwaters by fleeing or swimming to higher ground are now at serious risk of waterborne diseases, and could die from hunger in the longer term.

“Huge swaths of agricultural land have been affected, with crops swept away and three-quarters of a million livestock killed.”

Millions of houses and large amounts of infrastructure have been washed away or destroyed. The representative for UNICEF in Pakistan, Abdullah Fadil, said that “18,000 schools have been destroyed and thousands of schools are now fully shuttered.”

A spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency, Matthew Saltmarsh, said: “Affected people have told our staff on the ground about their traumatic and scarring experiences as rain and floodwaters swept away their possessions in minutes. Those who could rushed to safety on higher ground without being able to rescue their belongings. Shelter, clean drinking water, and food are among the most urgently needed items in the aftermath of the flood.”

Tearfund and other DEC charities were providing life-saving aid either directly or through local partners, Mr Johnson said. But more funds were needed to scale up these operations.

“We expect conditions to worsen, as rains are forecast to continue and glacial meltwater contributes to the rise in water levels. Tearfund is providing emergency food provisions and supporting families to drain waterlogged areas in Sindh province, but the scale of this emergency is huge.”

Pakistan produces less than one per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, but ranks consistently in the top ten countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Tearfund is also campaigning for international governments to take action to address climate change and prevent climate catastrophes.

Its “Time to Deliver” campaign asks wealthy countries to finance projects that would help communities that are vulnerable to these disasters to mitigate these and to adapt. A spokeswoman explained: “In Pakistan, climate finance could build defences like sea walls to help prevent flooding. Climate financing is vital, because people in developing countries are already suffering the worst impacts of the crisis — a crisis they didn’t cause.”

Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in Lahore, Pakistan, have set up flood relief camps, UCA reports. The Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus have set up camp outside St Mary’s, Gulberg, Lahore, where students of St Francis Convent High School are collecting donations, groceries, and clothes.

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