UN refugee agency rushes aid to Pakistan amid raging floods

Sep 4, 2022, 1:14 PM | Updated: Sep 5, 2022, 12:22 pm

Victims of unprecedented flooding from monsoon rains line up to receive relief aid organized by The...

Victims of unprecedented flooding from monsoon rains line up to receive relief aid organized by The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in Charsadda, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. The U.N. refugee agency rushed in more desperately needed aid Monday to flood-stricken Pakistan as the nation's prime minister traveled to the south where rising waters of Lake Manchar pose a new threat. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

(AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency rushed in more desperately needed aid Monday to flood-stricken Pakistan as the nation’s prime minister traveled to the south where rising waters of Lake Manchar pose a new threat.

Two UNHCR planes touched down in the southern port city of Karachi and two more were expected later in the day. A third plane, with aid from Turkmenistan also landed in Karachi. While the floods in recent weeks have touched much of Pakistan, the southern Sindh province, where Karachi is the capital, has been the most affected.

More than 1,300 people have been killed and millions have lost their homes in flooding caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan this year that many experts have blamed on climate change. In response to the unfolding disaster, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the crisis. He plans to visit flood-hit areas on Sept. 9.

On Sunday, engineers cut into an embankment in the sides of Lake Manchar in an effort to release rising floodwater to save the city of Sehwan and several nearby villages from possible destruction by flooding waters, which have damaged 1.6 million houses since mid-June.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was met by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto in the city of Sukkur on the swelling Indus River, from where they toured the flood-hit areas by helicopter. Murad Ali Shah, the province’s chief minister, briefed Sharif about the damages caused by floods in Sindh.

Floods have affected more than 3.3 million in this Islamic nation of 220 million and the devastation has caused $10 billion in damage, according to government estimates. The provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been the most affected and the majority of people killed were women and children.

Last week, the United States announced $30 million in aid for Pakistani flood victims. On Monday, two members of Congress, Sheila Jackson Lee and Tom Suzy, met with Pakistani officials and visited some of the stricken areas, the government said.

Pakistani President Arif Alvi at a ceremony in Islamabad awarded the country’s second highest award to Jackson Lee, who along with Suzy and U.S. embassy officials met with Prime Minister Sharif, according to a government statement. It said Sharif told the members of Congress that despite being one of the lowest emitters of carbon emissions, Pakistan was facing the brunt of climate change.

The statement said Lee conveyed her “deepest sympathies” for flood victims and said Congress and the Biden administration would support Pakistan “in the wake of this colossal challenge.”

Flood waters were receding in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces, but the situation was alarming across Sindh province. Hundreds were leaving the district of Jaffarabad after their homes were flooded.

“Our homes are right now inundated,” said Khadim Khoso, 45, recounting how he waded through chest-high water. He said he and his family left their home once the floodwaters brought in the snakes.

“No government help has reached here,” he said. However, authorities say they are doing their best to deliver aid to flood victims.

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan also visited some of the flood-hit areas in Sindh on Monday, including the city of Sukkur. Last week, he drew government criticism for addressing a series of antigovernment rallies at a time of a flooding emergency for Pakistan.

Afghan refugees living in Pakistan have also been affected by the floods. Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghans fleeing the violence in their country over the past four decades and currently has about 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees.

More than 420,000 Afghan refugees are estimated to be in the worst-affected areas in Pakistan, living side by side with their host communities.

Also Sunday, UNICEF delivered relief supplies, including medicines and water-purifying tablets, as part of the U.N. flash appeal for $160 million to support Pakistan’s flood response. UNICEF is also appealing for $37 million for children and families.

“The floods have left children and families out in the open with no access to the basic necessities of life,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF’s representative in Pakistan.

Planes carrying aid from other countries are also expected later Monday in response to an appeal from Sharif, who has appealed to the international community to help Pakistan.

With the two UNHCR planes, 38 planes have brought in aid from countries including China, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.


Associated Press writer Muhammad Farooq in Jaffarabad, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

3 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

4 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

4 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

4 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

4 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

7 days ago

UN refugee agency rushes aid to Pakistan amid raging floods