Pakistan‘s historic monsoon rains and floods have affected more than 30 million people over the past few weeks, the country’s climate change minister said on Thursday. Pakistan has called on the international community to help with relief efforts as it struggles to cope with the aftermath of torrential rains that have caused massive flooding that has killed more than 900 people since last month. “Thirty-three million were affected in various ways. The final number of homeless people is being assessed,” said Climate Minister Sherry Rehman.
At a news conference on Thursday, Rehman described the flooding as a “humanitarian disaster of epic proportions” that left thousands without food or shelter. “We have to ask not only the provinces and Islamabad, it is beyond the capacity of any administration or government to rehabilitate and even manage rescue and relief,” she added.
Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal said separately that 30 million people were affected, a number that would represent about 15 percent of the South Asian country’s population. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update on Thursday that monsoon rains had affected about three million people in Pakistan, with 184,000 displaced in relief camps across the country.
Heavy rains since mid-June have triggered flash floods and wreaked havoc across much of Pakistan, leaving 903 dead and about 50,000 people homeless, the country’s disaster agency said on Wednesday. Thousands whose homes were swept away are now living in tents, miles from their flooded villages and towns, after being rescued by soldiers, local disaster workers and volunteers.
The National Disaster Management Authority said 126 people were killed in the floods in the last 48 hours, with the majority of victims being women and children. The floods further deepened Pakistan’s economic crisis. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif issued an appeal from abroad on Wednesday, urging philanthropists to help flood-affected areas in Pakistan.
The vast majority of damage is in the southern province of Sindh. “Brother, the rain has not stopped for the last three months… We are living in a rickshaw with our children because the roof of our mud house is leaking,” said the woman, who declined to be named, from Hyderabad, Sindh’s second largest city. Sitting with her three children in the rickshaw, she said, “Where can we go? The gutters are overflowing and our yard is filled with sewage. Our houses and streets have turned into a floating garbage can.”
Meanwhile, the southwestern province of Balochistan received 496 percent of the rainfall above the 30-year average. “This water is now high not only on both sides of the Indus in southern Pakistan, but has triggered a new flash flood phenomenon where it rains in unprecedented 7-8 cycles, super floods from the merciless sky,” she tweeted.