World news

avoid a “second wave of deaths” after the floods

“The water has stopped rising, but not the danger”, alerted the Director General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on October 4, following the cataclysmic floods this summer in Pakistan which left more than 1,600 dead, 13,000 injured, 8 million displaced and nearly 10 million people still in need of life-saving assistance.

“I have never seen this kind of devastation, flooding and suffering of our people in my lifetime. Millions of people have been displaced, they have become climate refugees in their own country,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif testified in an interview with the British daily The Guardianthis Thursday, October 6th.

42,000 km2 still under water

Pakistan experienced normal rainfall in September. Rivers and rivers have also returned to their normal flow. And the monsoon, which was of unequaled intensity, stopped since the third week of September, reports the Pakistani Department of Meteorology. However, the country remains massively under stagnant water.

The accumulation caused by the melting of glaciers, torrential rains and flooding of rivers has submerged the country and devastated everything: houses, roads, bridges, hospitals, agricultural land, etc. At least 85,000 km2 were flooded in July-August. During the week of September 26 to October 2, 42,000 km2 still remained under water, according to satellite observations, communicated on October 4 by Unosat, the United Nations satellite centre.

The total reflux of the waters could take several months

The total reflux of the waters could take several months, alert the authorities of the country. Especially in Sindh, the most affected region in the South, and where many lands are below sea level.

An international fundraising conference for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country will be organized in the fall. In the meantime, the UN has called for urgent aid, quintupling funding needs from $160 million to $816 million to try to avoid “a second wave of death and destruction”.

Homeless people at the approach of winter, stagnant water, lack of drinking water, destruction of toilets and many health centers, destruction of crops, etc. All the ingredients are there to promote health problems, epidemics and malnutrition. “We are on the brink of a public health disaster,” estimated Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. On September 23, the Department of Meteorology (PMD) issued an alert to the risk of a dengue fever epidemic starting this month of October. This risk, which occurs particularly in the post-monsoon period of October and November, threatens ten major cities in the country and flooded areas, specifies the PMD.

The lands of Sindh, the breadbasket of the country, devastated

“The enormous dewatering needs to pump entire mini-oceans cannot be met at this scale, at least with current hydraulic engineering resources,” said federal climate change minister Sherry Rehman. “Not only have we lost the crops that needed to be harvested, but we are also very worried about the amount of land available for the next planting season. Early damage estimates indicate a loss of 74% of cultivable land in Sindh province alone,” she testified on a daily basis the news. Sindh is considered the breadbasket of the country.

“The enormity of this climate-induced disaster is beyond our financial means. The gap between our needs and what is available is too big, and it is widening day by day,” reports Shehbaz Sharif in The Guardian. This disaster “is not our doing, we have become a victim”, he adds, calling on developed countries to implement a “climate justice”.

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