Flood evacuation: Villagers flee to safety in southern Pakistan’s Sindh province.
1,100 dead, 700,000 dead cattle, 200,000 destroyed and 450,000 damaged houses, 20,000 square kilometers of agricultural land, 145 washed away bridges: the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan is massive, massive. 33 million out of 220 million people are affected.
Monsoon rains since June have wreaked havoc in all the four provinces. In the last 30 years, there has been five times the average rainfall. According to Climate Minister Sherry Rehman (61), one-third of the country is under water. “This is no longer a normal monsoon – this is a climate dystopia on our doorstep,” the minister said. “Dystopia” is a story that shows a negative caricature of future humanity.
Cotton field under water
Several aid agencies, including Helvetas and UNICEF, have begun work. “The situation is very bad right now, especially in the south,” says Jawad Ali, 63, Helvetas’ deputy country director. “The situation in the north has eased somewhat, but parts of the southern province of Sindh and Balochistan are a big lake.”
People who lost their homes sought refuge with acquaintances — or lived outside. Many have been accommodated in emergency shelters. Ali: “We supply food, medicine and water treatment plants.”
Lack of basic services is one thing, time after that is another, says Ali. “Many cotton fields and other agricultural areas have been destroyed. Many Pakistanis will be out of work because it will take months for the water to recede. Plus, winter is just around the corner.
UNICEF estimates that a third of the dead were children. “Thousands of families are homeless and exposed to endless rain with their small children in the open,” says Children’s Aid.
UNICEF not only takes care of basic aid, but also sets up temporary schools and supports children with psychological help. In Balochistan province, two-thirds of hospitals and 40 to 70 percent of schools were badly damaged.
Authorities expect more casualties as hundreds of mountain villages in the country’s north are cut off from the outside world. Even military helicopters have trouble landing in rough terrain.
Contingency and climate change
Natural disasters such as floods, droughts and landslides have increased in Pakistan in recent years and air quality has declined. Climatologists attribute the phenomenon to climate change, but also to the proximity of highly industrialized countries such as China and India.
The country has already been hit by an unusually early heat wave in spring. It crossed 40 degrees in the region.
ETH climatologist Sonia I. Senaviratne (48) explains: “There is definitely a random component associated with weather variability, but the higher rainfall is generally increasing.” Particularly affected are Western Europe – including Switzerland – Northern Europe, Central North America, the East Coast of the US, Southeast Asia and North Asia.
And ETH climatologist Reto Gnutti (49) says about the situation in Pakistan: “The effects are greatly amplified by faulty or missing preparation and infrastructure such as flood protection, on the other hand by the lack of funds and skills to deal with crises. .”
According to the German development and environment organization Germanwatch, Pakistan ranks eighth among countries most threatened by extreme weather events.
The United Nations, along with the government of Pakistan, presented an initial six-month aid plan in Geneva on Tuesday. It requires 116 million dollars (about 114 million Swiss francs). UN to donate to its member countries.
Switzerland is also helping. It transfers five million francs to the United Nations Emergency Relief Fund and three million to the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Cross Societies. Also, four experts from Swiss Humanitarian Aid will visit Pakistan.
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