Pakistan floods have affected more than 30 million: Minister

Climate minister Sherry Rehman says floods are a ‘humanitarian disaster of epic proportions’ that have left thousands without food and shelter.

A family takes refuge on a higher ground following rains and floods
Families took refuge following rain and floods during the monsoon season in Dera Allah Yar district of Jafferabad, Balochistan [Amer Hussain/Reuters]

Historic monsoon rains and flooding in Pakistan have affected more than 30 million people during the last few weeks, the country’s climate change minister said on Thursday.

Pakistan has urged the international community to help with relief efforts as it struggled to cope with the aftermath of torrential rains that have triggered massive floods since last month, killing more than 900 people.

“Thirty-three million have been affected in different ways. The final homeless figure is being assessed,” climate minister Sherry Rehman said.

In a news conference on Thursday, Rehman described the floods as a “humanitarian disaster of epic proportions” that had left thousands without food and shelter.

“We need to ask not just the provinces and Islamabad, it is beyond the capacity of any one administration or government to rehabilitate and even manage the rescue and relief,” she added.


Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal separately said 30 million people had been affected, a figure that would represent about 15 percent of the South Asian country’s population.

United Nations agency Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update on Thursday the monsoon rains had affected some three million people in Pakistan, of which 184,000 have been displaced to relief camps across the country.

Heavy rains have triggered flash floods and wreaked havoc across much of Pakistan since mid-June, leaving 903 dead and about 50,000 people homeless, the country’s disaster agency said on Wednesday.

Pakistan floods
People wade through a flooded area following heavy rains in Sanghar, Pakistan [Rehan Khan/EPA]

Thousands whose homes were swept away now live in tents, kilometres away from their inundated villages and towns, after being rescued by soldiers, local disaster workers and volunteers.

The National Disaster Management Authority said so far 126 people were killed in flood-related incidents in the past 48 hours, with most of the victims being women and children. The flooding has further exacerbated Pakistan’s economic crisis.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif issued an appeal on Wednesday from abroad, urging philanthropists to help flood-affected areas in Pakistan.

‘Merciless sky’

A vast majority of the damage is in the southern province of Sindh.

“Brother, the rain has not stopped for the past three months … We are living in a rickshaw with our children because the roof of our mud house is leaking,” a woman who declined to be named said from Hyderabad, Sindh’s second-largest city.

Rehman said Sindh had received “784 percent” more rain this month than the monthly average in August.

OCHA also warned alerts had been issued for floods, river overflows, and landslides in several areas of Pakistan, and heavy rainfall was forecast for the next two days, too, over most of the country.

A family takes refuge on a higher ground following rains and floods
A family takes refuge on higher ground following floods during the monsoon season in Dera Allah Yar [Amer Hussain/Reuters]

Seated with three of her children in the rickshaw she said, “Where can we go? The gutters are overflowing, and our courtyard is filled up with sewage. Our houses and alleys have turned into a floating garbage bin.”

Meanwhile, the southwest province of Balochistan received 496 percent rain above the 30-year average.

“This water is high now not only on both sides of the Indus in southern Pakistan but has triggered a new flash flood phenomenon where it’s raining in 7-8 unprecedented cycles, superflooding areas from a merciless sky,” she said in a tweet.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies