Water as far as the eye can see, a macabre toll that never stops growing and millions of lives turned upside down. Pakistan has been hit for three months by torrential monsoon rains that are devastating everything. More than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, are affected and a third of this South Asian country is under water. Local Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman spoke of a “crisis of unimaginable proportions”. Franceinfo takes stock of this ongoing disaster.
>> IN PHOTOS. In Pakistan, monsoon rains kill more than 1,000 people and devastate entire regions
A historic monsoon hits the country three months ago
Since June, the country has been affected by very heavy monsoon rains, “unprecedented in thirty years”, according to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The monsoon, which usually lasts from June to September, is essential for irrigating crops and replenishing water resources on the Indian subcontinent, but its consequences are dramatic this year. The northern and southern regions are particularly affected. In addition, the Indus, the country’s main river, is flooded and threatens to overflow.
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman spoke of a “crisis of unimaginable proportions”, and officials attribute the intensity of this bad weather to climate change. The country was also affected in April and May by a strong heat wave (51 degrees recorded in Jacobabad, central Pakistan) and drought, which negatively affect soil permeability, further promoting rainwater runoff.
In their latest report, scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) note that global warming increases the risk of flooding in monsoon regions.
Death toll rises to at least 1,136 dead
At least 1,136 people, including 75 in the last 24 hours, have died since the monsoon began in June, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). More than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, are also affected by this monsoon which has caused immense flooding in the country: a third of Pakistan is under water, According to the Minister of Climate Change.
In Pakistan, 119 dead in one day and more than 1,000 deaths since June in monsoon floods.
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To illustrate the gravity of this disaster, the climate change minister announced that the bad weather was even worse than in 2010, when 2,000 people died and nearly a fifth of Pakistan was submerged.
“We’re used to the monsoon every year, but we’ve never seen anything like it. It was eight weeks of constant rain,” explained in an interview with AFP Sherry Rehman, who talks about a “dystopian film”.
In the face of extensive material damage, a state of emergency was declared.
In addition to the human drama, these monsoons totally disrupt the local landscape. “It’s all just one big ocean, there’s no dry place to pump water” lamented the Minister of Climate Change. Nearly a million homes were destroyed or seriously damaged, according to the government.
The NDMA said more than 80,000 hectares of farmland had been devastated and more than 3,400 kilometers of roads and 157 bridges had been swept away, hampering relief operations. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), more than three million people were forced from their homes, while at least 710,000 farm animals died. The government declared a state of emergency.
An appeal was launched for assistance to the international community
With the help of the United Nations, the Pakistani government launched, on Tuesday, August 30, an urgent appeal for donations of 160 million euros to help the victims and the displaced. This financial gain should allow the financing of an emergency plan for the next six months.
The Minister of Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, declared that his country would need more than ten billion euros to repair the damage caused by the floods. On Saturday, President Emmanuel Macron announced that “France [était] ready to help” in the country hit by the disaster.