Koonjh, 25, a flood-affected woman and suffering from fever, is taken care by a relative as she waits for medical assistance at Sayed Abdullah Shah Institute of Medical Sciences in Sehwan. Image Credit: REUTERS

Islamabad: The United Nations has increased its aid appeal to $816 million from $160 million to provide urgently-needed assistance to flood-hit Pakistanis.

The aid has been increased nearly five times to contain the spread of waterborne diseases among thousands of flood victims as waters from record-breaking rains began to recede in many parts of the country. The catastrophic floods affected more than 33 million in Pakistan.

“We need all of these funds and we need it quickly,” said Julien Harneis, the UN coordinator for Pakistan, adding that only $90 million out of the $160 million previous UN appeal had so far been received. He said that diseases such as malaria, dengue, diarrhoea, scabies and other skin diseases are fueling a “second wave of death and destruction,” in the flood-ravaged country.

The fresh appeal for aid was launched in Geneva. “We must all work together to support the people of Pakistan” as the country is “on the verge of a public health disaster,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the gathering.

Floods in Pakistan have killed at least 1,695 including almost 630 children since mid-June and at least 12,800 have been injured. displaced 7.9 million people. The unprecedented monsoon rains and floods have ruined lives, swept away roads and infrastructure, destroyed over two million homes and crops, killed livestock, and wiped out livelihoods. Officials say the floods have caused at least $30 billion in damages.

A schoolgirl receives a typhoid fever vaccine during a vaccination campaign in Peshawar, on October 3, 2022. Image Credit: AP

New coalition needed to fight climate disasters

Pakistan is out of resources to spend on recovery from recent devastating floods, the country’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, told the gathering in Geneva. “To shelter, feed and resettle such large numbers is beyond the capacity and resources of any one country,” she said, urging that the world “will need a new coalition of the willing to fight climate disasters. If it can be done for wars, it can be done to save lives.”

Pakistan’s economic affairs minister Ayaz Sadiq said that it would take “years and years” for Pakistan to rebuild and help rehabilitate millions of people displaced by floods. He called for sustained and long-term support from the world community for Pakistan to recover from the climate-induced calamity.

The European Union (EU) said that it is scaling up its assistance to PKR 6.7 billion (€30 million) in humanitarian aid for flood victims in Pakistan. This new funding aims to address the most urgent needs such as shelters, clean drinking water and sanitation, food and nutrition, medical services, cash assistance, focusing on the most affected areas of the country, particularly in Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

As promised during UNGA, “more help from the EU to help Pakistan deal with the consequences of the terrible floods is on the way. The EU stands with the Pakistani people,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet.

The aid was announced by European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, during his meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday. Lenarcic is visiting Pakistan to meet affected communities, and assess the impact of the catastrophic floods and ongoing relief efforts.

“With this new funding, the EU reaffirms its continued support to Pakistan and stands by the most vulnerable to help them fulfil basic needs. Once again, however, nature reminded us of the impact of global warming. Mainstreaming disaster preparedness and prevention in EU-funded projects will therefore remain our top priority within the provision of humanitarian assistance,” the EU official said.