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ISLAMABAD: The United Nations and the Government of Pakistan on Tuesday jointly launched a flash appeal, “2022 Pakistan Floods Response Plan (FRP)”, amounting to US$ 160.3 million to assist the national efforts in dealing with the catastrophic floods which have killed over 1,100 people and overall affected more than 33 million people in the country.

The “2022 Pakistan Floods Response Plan (FRP)” was jointly launched by the government of Pakistan and the United Nations, simultaneously in Islamabad and Geneva in the backdrop of devastating rains, floods and landslides that have impacted more than 33 million people in various parts of Pakistan.

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 two 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.

Tens of millions battle floods

The FRP is holistic, with a multi-sectoral approach covering the thematic clusters 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 three million Afghans with generosity and compassion, and like previous occasions, at least 421,000 refugees living in flood-affected areas are included in the FRP.

In his keynote address on the occasion, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that the government’s efforts are being supported by the Pakistani nation with people, civil society and humanitarian organisations 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. “This appeal is expected to address only a part of the overall requirements and will, therefore, complement the broader effort,” he said.

He 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 stated that the people of Pakistan face the unrelenting impact of heavy rains and flooding – worst in decades.

He added that the government of Pakistan’s response has been swift and 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,” the UN chief emphasized.

Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, in his address, 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 that the “super flood” is driven by climate change. “The causes are international and so the response calls for international solidarity,” he emphasized.

“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,” he added.

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 that 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 through 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,” he added.

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said 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,” he added.

The launch event was well attended by the diplomatic corps both in Islamabad and Geneva, heads of UN agencies in Pakistan, representatives of international organisations, 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.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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