Sherry Rehman terms Pakistani floods ‘climate-induced humanitarian disaster’

Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman on Thursday referring to the the havoc wreaked by ongoing unprecedented monsoon rains, said Pakistan was going through a climate-induced humanitarian disaster at the moment.

The media should play an effective role in highlighting the plight of flood victims, rescue and relief efforts, and damages to life and property so that the stakeholders could manage a well-coordinated response with the public support, she told a press conference.

Sherry said the country had so far received average 166 millimeters rainfall during the month of August, which was 241% above normal, whereas its southern parts particularly Sindh, got 784% more than normal average rain of the season which was alarming.

The Met Office statistics were startling, she said, adding the flash floods caused by massive rains had swept away bridges and communication infrastructure in various areas of the provinces.

The current deluge in the Indus River was even more than the super flood of 2010, Sherry remarked.

The minister said a national emergency had been declared in the country as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal had postponed their official visits abroad.

“We are in the eighth spell of monsoon rains with southern Pakistan receiving heavy rains, including 23 districts of Sindh declared as calamity-hit.”

She said as half of the country in the south was inundated, the armed forces and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) along with provincial governments were actively engaged in rescue and relief activities.

“Almost 30 million people are without shelter, thousands of them displaced and have no food. As needs assessment is underway and will be completed soon, which will help in approaching donor agencies for relief and rescue as the crisis has surpassed the capacity of the government.”

She reiterated that it was not possible for a government or a province to solely handle such massive flooding and heavy rains. “The Prime Minister’s Relief Fund account is active to accept donations for disaster-hit masses whereas tents have been ordered by the NDMA and PDMAs (Provincial Disaster Management Authorities). The prime minister has also opened a war room at the NDMA to spearhead and monitor rescue and relief efforts.”

The minister underlined that there was forecast of extended monsoon activity in September, which was again alarming one.

She said the Sukkur and Taunsa barrages had high water flow and all available machinery and other resources were being utilized in the affected region. At present all the departments were focused on flood-hit areas to cope with any evolving situation.

Sherry said some 913 people had perished in rain-related incidents, with more number of deaths of the children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, the number of the injured was also reported high, she added.

She said it was now time for donors and the world to support Pakistan, which had always volunteered to assist nations, including its neighbours during natural disasters.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday decided to constitute district-level committees comprising deputy commissioners concerned, representatives from Corps-V, Engineering Corps, local government, PDMA, and local communities to conduct a survey and damages assessment right from village level so that proper relief could be provided to the rain-affected people.

“The purpose is to reach to the affected families and support them in a transparent, proper, and decent way,” the CM told this to participants while presiding over a rain emergency and relief meeting here, said a statement issued by a spokesperson of the CM’s House.

The CM Sindh said that the committees being formed at the district level would not only work for relief, rescue, survey, early recovery, and damage assessment but procure all the required material and goods, right from tents, mosquito nets, food items, medicines, machinery, and such other things.

It was pointed out that the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has distributed 80,000 tents and has placed an order for another 180,000 tents but a requirement of one million tents has been generated by the district admonition.

The chief minister said that the River Indus was in high flood, Guddu Barrage has 517392 cusecs upstream and downstream flows, Sukkur Barrage 597753 and Kotri 297178 cusecs flows.

“Comparatively our embankments of our rivers are in a better position than the flood situation of 2010 and 2011 but even then, various vulnerable points are under pressure,” he said and added if the mountains range of Punjab received more rain the flows in the river would increase thereby exerting more pressure on the protective walls.

Murad said that the people living in the Riverine Belt had vacated their houses and had started lining the embankment of the river.In case of any emergency situation, they would migrate further to the main roads.

He added that he has traveled across the province and found thousands of people have set up their cottages, and tents along the main roads.

It was decided that tent cities would be set up at the union council level so that people could be shifted to one place which would be easier for the administration to provide them with all necessary facilities at one place. However, it was also decided that tents would be given to people separately.

The chief minister said that the Crops-V would also help the district administration in the distribution of ration bags and other materials.

The issue of disposal of water from the cities and towns came under discussion. Since the nearby canals/branches are flowing at their maximum capacity, therefore they don’t carry/accept rainwater in natural gravity.

The meeting decided that the district administration would use diesel engines and electricity to pump out water from the cities and towns for which necessary machinery would be provided to them on an emergency basis.

At this, the PDMA told the meeting that they have already provided dewatering machines, pumping machines, and generators.

The chief minister while concluding the meeting said that the survey of the damaged houses, crops, and loss of livestock would help the government to prepare a plan to rehabilitate the affected people.

It is pertinent to note that the above normal monsoon rains across the country on Thursday caused further surge in the lives and property losses as the total death count in various incidents reached 903 and 1293 individuals got injured since the onset of the rainy season.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued a 24-hour situation report released on routine basis that accounted overall life, property, and infrastructure losses incurred by the heavy rains lashing out various parts of the country.

The heavy rains caused roof collapse incident in Balochistan’s four different areas including two men died in Loralai, a man died in Duki, one in Sibbi and one in Musakhel whereas three children got injured in Duki.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s District Dera Ismail Khan, incidents of roof collapse as a result of heavy rain were reported at different sites that caused death of a male and injured a male and a female.

In Punjab’s District Rajanpur, five males died due to drowning in high flow waters.

In Sindh, five men, a woman and a child died in Noushero Feroze, four man perished in Larkana, a man , a woman and a child died in Shaheed Benazirabad, a man and three children died in Jacobabad, a woman and a child expired in Badin, a woman in Sanghar died, two children in Tando Muhammad Khan, two children in Kashmore and one in Dadu died during various incidents.

It won’t be wrong to say that unprecedented monsoon rains and resulting floods have
left a trail of destruction throughout Sindh on Thursday.

As many as 300 villages have been inundated in Qambar district of the province while 34 people have so far lost their lives.

Over 50 people have been injured and several homes lie in ruins in the district on account of incessant rains.

Similarly, there is water everywhere in Tangwani and Ghauspur where people have been forced to live outdoors and that, too, in torrential rains.

The situation is no different in Sanghar district where routine life has been paralyzed as over 125 villages have been flooded after nullahs burst their banks; 15 people have died and several homes have been destroyed.

To combat the destruction, the Sindh government has set up a ‘flood relief fund’ to
which Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) members of the parliament (MPs) as well as members of the Sindh Assembly, provincial ministers and special assistants to the CM will donate their month’s salary.

PPP’s Sharjeel Memon has said all government employees of grade-17 and above
will also donate their five-day salary to the Fund.

On the other hand, Khairpur district is completely under water where the
flood victims have demanded the government to announce a ‘big relief
package’ since Rs25, 000 were not enough.

Syeda Nafeesa Shah, PPP leader, has demanded the authorities to give Rs0.1
million each to those families whose homes have been destroyed by rains and
floods. “80 per cent of people have been rendered homeless while crops and
orchards are under rainwater.

There was no incident or loss to report in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

In Gilgit Baltistan (GB), the Mujawir Road at Ishkoman Immit Valley was blocked due to flash flood where restoration work was in progress.

In Balochistan, the high flow of water blocked the N-25 Quetta-Karachi Highway as it washed away the Lunda Bridge. Similarly the M-8 motorway was also blocked due to land sliding.

The report highlighted that a widespread thunderstorm and rain of heavy to very heavy intensity with extremely heavy falls at isolated places was expected over Sindh, Eastern Balochistan along with Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan Divisions.

As many as 18 bridges have collapsed while 710-kilometer stretch of different roads have been badly hit by the calamity in the country’s largest province Balochistan due to which its links with other three provinces of the country have been cut off.

Nine more people have died in the province during the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 234.

As many as 26, 897 homes are either completely in ruins or partially damaged.

Similarly, over 0.1 million cattle have perished.

It further highlighted that scattered to widespread thunderstorm and rain of moderate to heavy intensity with isolated very heavy falls was expected over the upper catchments of Rivers Kabul and Indus.

Moreover, scattered thunderstorm and rain of moderate intensity was expected over the upper catchments of Rivers Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej along with Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, Peshawar, Kohat and Bannu Divisions.

It added that isolated thunderstorm and rain was expected over rest of the country except Western Balochistan.

People in south Punjab are still to come to grips with the colossal loss of
lives and properties they have suffered this monsoon season.

There is water everywhere. There seems to no end in sight to the sufferings
of people in Taunsa Sharif.

The same gloomy situation persists in Kot Chattha.

In Jampur, Sakhi Sarwar and Layyah, human settlements have been washed away
by raging water, forcing the locals to spend their days and nights under
open skies.

Pakistan Army, on the other hand, is carrying out relief operation in the
affected areas.


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