INTERNATIONAL DESK: The United Nations and the government of Pakistan on Tuesday launched the revised flash appeal of an urgent US$ 816 million to swiftly respond to the needs of people affected by unprecedented climate-induced floods in the country.
The revised “2022 Pakistan Floods Response Plan” (FRP) was shared with UN member states and humanitarian organisations on Tuesday in Geneva where Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman represented Pakistan while Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar participated in the live ceremony from Islamabad.
The revised appeal urgently seeks US $ 816 million to respond to the growing lifesaving needs of the people – a jump of US $ 656 million from the initial appeal of US $160 million.
“This increase is a reflection of the rising needs and the unprecedented scale of destruction caused by the current climate-induced disaster which has affected a population of 33 million, cost 1,600 lives and threaten hundreds of thousands more as a second disaster looms within the first one,” said a joint press release, issued simultaneously in Islamabad and Geneva.
Over two million homes have been destroyed or damaged, forcing people to live under open skies exposed to threats of dengue, malaria, and the biting cold of the fast-approaching winter. More than 1,500 health and support facilities are badly damaged and unable to respond to the growing needs. 13,000 kms of roads are badly damaged, making it extremely difficult – and, at times, impossible – to reach families in need.
According to the joint press release, the focus of this appeal is on the provision of urgent and lifesaving humanitarian assistance and protection to 9.5 million people until 31 May 2023, with a focus on the 34 most-affected districts in Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab.
This prioritization is based on the number of houses damaged and destroyed, available projections of water level changes, and the population of displaced people in the districts. It aims to enable a more cohesive response for people in areas that have been most severely affected, and to foster a focused, multi-sectoral approach, it added.
Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman, who was in Geneva, headlined the unimaginable scale of loss and damage caused by unprecedented climate-induced floods in Pakistan.
She highlighted that the scale of the catastrophe had gone beyond all previous climate disasters, affecting a population larger than the size of many countries.
She referred to the continued inundation of large swathes of the country in pestilent water, pointing to the health risks such flooding posed. She added that Pakistan had sustained a complex and multi-sectoral exogenous shock to its economic body, and should not be expected to struggle alone on the frontlines of this climate apocalypse while contributing less than one percent to the total global carbon emissions.
Calling for a “coalition of the willing” to effectively respond to this calamity, she outlined specific and urgent requirements in the areas of health, food security, and rehabilitation. Considering that it was a race against time to support the people affected by the floods, she echoed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, saying that it was not a question of solidarity but of climate justice.
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, in his remarks said, “People in Pakistan are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, where catastrophic flooding has taken a devastating toll on the most vulnerable. We are now in a race against time ahead of the winter season and funding is now urgently needed so humanitarians can prepare to respond to rising health, hunger and other debilitating needs.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “The water has stopped rising, but the danger has not, we are on the verge of a public health disaster. Many more lives than were lost in the floods could be lost in the coming weeks if we don’t mobilize greater support for Pakistan.” He said that the WHO will do everything it can to support the people of Pakistan now, and in the coming months and years after the recovery and rebuilding phase.
“And even as we respond to the emergency in Pakistan, we must remember that unless we address the existential threat of climate change, we will be responding to emergencies like this and worse more often,” the WHO chief further stated.
The United Nations Pakistan Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Julien Harneis, said: “We are now entering a second wave of death and destruction due to the floods.” He added that the new funds will go towards food security, health care, clean drinking water, and sanitation.
The Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children, Inger Ashing, represented the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum at the occasion. She called on the donors to step up and fully fund this lifesaving response. She praised the efforts of the government as well as the humanitarian network in Pakistan for their relief efforts.
Minister for Economic Affairs Ayaz Sadiq, who joined the live flash appeal from Islamabad, stated that this catastrophe was a climate warning to the world at the expense of Pakistan. He added that the losses were as of now assessed in billions of dollars, with large areas of land still inundated, making it impossible for people associated with agriculture to go back to sowing crops. He underscored the importance of saving each life, by helping the Government’s efforts for flood relief.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, who also joined the appeal from Islamabad, paid a special tribute to both national and international first responders and humanitarian civil society organisations who had been working tirelessly to provide relief to those in need.
“With our characteristic resilience and endurance, and support of the international community, we are determined to overcome this challenge and bounce back stronger. There is a long road ahead of us. We would continue to count on sustained attention and support of the international community as we transition to the huge task of sustainable rehabilitation and reconstruction,” she highlighted. She noted the need to equip people to not only survive but also to thrive after the crises.
The international community including UN member States, UN agencies, and international humanitarian organizations participated in the event and delivered statements of solidarity and support for the people of Pakistan, in the wake of the climate-induced catastrophe.
An initial US $160 million flash appeal was made on August 29 to address immediate needs based on estimates just a month ago. The support of the international community to the initial appeal of US $ 160 million allowed the humanitarian community to respond to immediate life-saving needs.
However, the results of the recent needs assessments, that led to up-scaling of the Flash Appeal to US $ 816 million, revealed that much more was needed to save those struggling to survive the aftermath of the floods.
“The government of Pakistan, the United Nations, humanitarian and philanthropy organizations, and local communities have been working hard to provide assistance to flood-affected areas across Pakistan,” according to the joint press release.
It added that the international community has stepped forward with valuable assistance. This support has been in terms of multi-purpose cash, as well as the provision of healthcare, medicines, food, water, shelter, education, and protection. (Business Recorder)