Pakistan floods: UN appeals for $160m as death toll mounts

People wade through a flooded area following heavy rains in Jhuddo District, Sindh province, Pakistan, 30 August 2022.(Credit: EPA/NADEEM KHAWAR)

Pakistan pleads for international aid as flash floods put the country underwater.

The UN and Pakistan launched a flash appeal on Tuesday to address devastating floods in Pakistan that have already caused over 1,000 deaths and have affected 33 million people, according to government figures.

Torrential rains pouring since June have submerged nearly one third of the country, destroying infrastructure, wiping out crops and killing livestock, and are projected to continue over the week with the monsoon season in full swing in South Asia.

Launched from Islamabad and Geneva, the emergency six-month plan worth $160 million aims to provide health services, food, clean water and shelter to some 5.2 million people hit by the floods, Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said at a media briefing in Geneva.

Why it matters. Pakistan is reeling from its worst floods since 2010 only months after an extreme heatwave engulfed the country, with several parts reaching temperatures of 50ºC. Scientists have warned that the acceleration of climate change is already causing such extreme weather events to become worse and more frequent.

“This is the footprint of climate change,” Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told reporters.

The devastation comes only two months before countries are set to meet for climate talks in Sharma El-Sheikh, in Egypt. Developing countries are expected to raise the contentious issue of compensation for climate impacts. They argue that they're paying the hefty price of climate change despite contributing the least to global carbon emissions, and that polluting, wealthy nations should foot the bill for climate damages.

The cost of climate disasters. Pakistan’s planning minister has said that early estimates put reconstruction efforts from the floods at $10bn and that that the world should step up to its aid. The war in Ukraine but also poor planning have been blamed for leaving nearly half of the population food insecure. The country is now bracing for more food shortages.

Speaking by video message at the launch of the appeal, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said: “It's outrageous that climate action is being put on the back burner, and global emissions of greenhouse gases are still rising, putting all of us everywhere in growing danger.”

“Pakistan is awash in suffering,” he said. “Let us all step up in solidarity and support the people of Pakistan in their hour of need.”