ISLAMABAD    -    The United Nations yesterday launched a flash appeal urging the world to come forward in support of Pakistan, which is experiencing devastating floods leav­ing over 1,100 dead and displacing over 33 million people.

The “2022 Paki­stan Floods Response Plan (FRP)” was joint­ly launched by the Gov­ernment of Pakistan and the United Nations, simultaneously in Is­lamabad and Geneva.

The FRP is being launched in the back­drop of devastating rains, floods and land­slides that have impact­ed more than 33 mil­lion people in different parts of Pakistan.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speak­ing through a video link during the 2022 Paki­stan Floods Response Plan (FRP) event, said that infrastructure in the affected areas of Pa­kistan was destroyed by the floods and the coun­try was in dire need of help from the interna­tional community to help those affected.

He said Pakistan is in need of $160 million in aid for the flood victims, adding that greenhouse gases are causing an in­ crease in global warming. Over 1,100 people including over 350 children have lost their lives, more than 1,600 people have been injured, over 287,000 houses have been fully and 662,000 partially destroyed, over 735,000 livestock have perished and 2 million acres of crops have been adversely im­pacted, besides severe dam­age to communications infra­structure. The FRP focuses on the needs of 5.2 million people, with life-saving response activ­ities amounting to US$ 160.3 million covering food security, assistance for agriculture and livestock, shelter and non-food items, nutrition programmes, primary health services, pro­tection, water and sanitation, women’s health, and education support, as well as shelter for displaced people.

The FRP highlights the main humanitarian needs, the efforts and steps taken by the Gov­ernment of Pakistan to handle these challenges in collabora­tion with the UN and other part­ners, and sets out a well-coor­dinated and inclusive plan of action to respond to the needs of the affected people. 

The FRP is holistic, with a multi-sectoral approach cover­ing the thematic cluster of food security and agriculture, health, nutrition, education, protection, shelter and non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene. Moreover, Pakistan continues to host more than 3 million Af­ghans with generosity and com­passion, and like previous oc­casions, the at least 421,000 refugees living in flood-affect­ed areas are included in the FRP.

Delivering the keynote ad­dress, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the govern­ment’s efforts are being sup­ported by the Pakistani nation with people, civil society and humanitarian organizations stepping forward in a big way to complement the relief work with our characteristic generos­ity and philanthropic spirit. 

He said that the Prime Minis­ter’s Flood Relief Fund 2022 has also been established to facili­tate people all over the country and overseas to contribute to the flood relief efforts.

The FM added: “This Appeal is expected to address only a part of the overall requirements and will, therefore, complement the broader effort.” The FM under­scored that the international community’s “full support and solidarity with the people of Pa­kistan at this time would go a long way in alleviating their suf­fering and in helping to rebuild their lives and communities.”

In his video message, UN Sec­retary General Antonio Guterres shared that “the people of Paki­stan face the unrelenting impact of heavy rains and flooding – worst in decades”. UNSG added that “the Government of Paki­stan’s response has been swift. It has released national funds, including in the form of imme­diate cash relief. But the scale of needs is rising like the flood waters. It requires the world’s collective and prioritized atten­tion.”

Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal highlighted that “Pakistan being a negligible contributor to the overall carbon footprint, is still among the top ten coun­tries that are vulnerable to cli­mate change, and with extreme weather events which we have experienced from earlier this year like the heat waves, forest fires, multiple glacial lake-out­burst-floods and now these di­sastrous monsoon floods.

The UN Resident and Human­itarian Coordinator Julien Har­neis said: “This super flood is driven by climate change - the causes are international and so the response calls for interna­tional solidarity.”

He added: “Across Pakistan, I have seen government work­ers, ordinary people, out in the rain and water, saving lives and giving the little they have to those who have lost every­thing. We, in the internation­al community, need to step up and stand with the people of Pakistan. This appeal is the ab­solute minimum we need from the international community for life saving assistance and services. The people of Pa­kistan deserve our support.” Chairman of the National Di­saster Management Authori­ty (NDMA) Lieutenant General Akhtar Nawaz gave a detailed briefing on the current human­itarian situation and efforts of the Government of Pakistan, supported by humanitarian partners in carrying out rescue and relief operations.

Xavier Castellanos Mosquera, Under-Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Soci­eties (IFRC) said the “IFRC is committed to assisting the af­fected communities in these unprecedented floods in Paki­stan. Together with Pakistan Red Crescent, we have launched an initial emergency appeal though which we are seeking funds to assist 324,000 people in Health, Safe drinking water, Emergency Shelter, and Liveli­hoods. The IFRC is working to­gether with the Government of Pakistan and the UN agencies to have a coordinated response to ensure we reach the most vul­nerable and affected popula­tions, providing access to basic necessities to all”.

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refu­gees, shared that “today, the in­ternational community – in­cluding my own agency – must help the people in need in Pa­kistan. We urgently need glob­al support and solidarity for Pa­kistan”. The launch event was well attended by the Diplomat­ic Corps both in Islamabad and Geneva, heads of UN agencies in Pakistan, representatives of in­ternational organizations, IFIs, civil society and media. The participants offered condolenc­es and expressions of solidarity on the loss of precious lives and damage to infrastructure by the floods, and assured their con­tinued support to the relief, res­cue, rehabilitation, and recon­struction efforts of Pakistan.

Pakistan is a country with experience and capacity in responding to humanitar­ian emergencies and has made major strides in achiev­ing the Sustainable Develop­ment Goals (SDGs). Howev­er, the scale and magnitude of the current floods is unprec­edented, whereby, the coun­try received rainfall equivalent to 2.9 times the national 30-year average – a grave man­ifestation of Climate Change induced disasters. It is import­ant that the international com­munity shows solidarity with Pakistan and complements its national efforts in combating the direct and inter-related impacts of the current floods.

Later, at a joint news confer­ence with United Nations Resi­dent Coordinator Julien Harneis here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FM Bilawal said the cur­rent flash floods had affected around 33 million in the coun­try and stressed joint efforts by the government, international community and the United Na­tions’ donor agencies to over­come the enormous challenge.

He said following the initial assessment of the disaster, ur­gent steps were required by the world, the UN and the partner agencies to cope with the mag­nitude of the challenge.

He said Pakistan, this mon­soon, received three times of the usual rainfall that resulted in floods affecting 23 districts of Sindh and 30 districts of Ba­lochistna, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and South Punjab.

He mentioned that there was a shortage of tents and food items to meet the demands of the flood-affected people and vowed to ensure transparency in disbursement of relief supply items. Bilawal said drainage of water was a big challenge in the low-lying areas inundated with flood water, adding that evacu­ations were being made despite limited resources.

He said the support of inter­national community would help Pakistan overcome the daunting challenge. He thanked the UN and its agencies in coordinating with the government of Pakistan in carrying out relief activities. He also mentioned the gesture of exemplary generosity by Pa­kistani people and civil society in mobilizing relief work.

The foreign minister said there was a long-way ahead in effective mitigation of the flood relief and rescue.

To a question regarding the capacity to deal with the chal­lenge, he said joint efforts at federal, provincial and inter­national agencies’ levels would overcome the problem.

Bilawal recalled that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during his visit to Sindh had an­nounced Rs 15 billion as grant. The amount, he said, would not be sufficient viz-a-viz the dam­age, however would comple­ment the efforts of the provin­cial government.