International aid was reaching Pakistan yesterday, as the military and volunteers desperately tried to evacuate many thousands stranded by widespread flooding driven by “monster monsoons” that have claimed more than 1,000 lives this summer.
Cargo planes from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates began the international rush to assist the impoverished nation, landing on Sunday in Islamabad carrying tents, food and other daily necessities.
Trucks carrying tents, food and water arranged by Pakistan were also being dispatched to various parts of the nation by the National Disaster Management Authority for tens of thousands of flood victims.
They were among the nations that pledged to help Pakistan tackle the crisis after officials called for international help.
The UN is to launch an international appeal for Pakistani flood victims today in Islamabad.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shabaz Sharif yesterday said that the rains are the heaviest Pakistan has seen in three decades.
“I saw floodwater everywhere, wherever I went in recent days and even today,” Sharif said in Charsadda, one of the devastated towns.
He said the planes carrying aid from some nations had already reached Pakistan and he predicted more.
Sharif has said the government would provide housing to all those who lost their homes.
However, many people displaced by floods said they not only lost their homes, but their crops and small shops as well.
“I am sitting with my family in a tent and how can I go out to work? Even if I go out in search of a job, who will give me any job as there is water everywhere,” said Rehmat Ullah, a flood victim in Charsadda in the northwest.
Zarina Bibi, another flood victim, said troops evacuated her by boat.
“We were given a tent and food by soldiers and volunteers,” she said.
Bibi cried when she said her house had collapsed in the floods.
“Floodwater will recede soon, but we have no money to rebuild our home,” she said.
Rehan Ali, 24, a laborer in southern Sindh Province, reported a similar ordeal.
He said he cannot rebuild his home without government help and he was unable to work to get food for his family.
Ali said he was relying on donations.
The exceptionally heavy monsoon rains that triggered flash floods across the nation have affected 33 million Pakistanis, damaged nearly 1 million homes and killed at least 1,061 people.
Pakistani authorities said this year’s devastation is worse than in 2010, when floods killed 1,700 people.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s military chief, on Sunday said that his nation might take years to recover. He appealed to Pakistanis living abroad to generously donate to the flood victims.
Pakistani Minister of Climate Change Sherry Rehman has described the unusual rainfall as a “monster monsoon.”
She said Pakistan suffered heavier rains this year mainly because of climate change, which also caused forest fires.
However, critics have said the Pakistani government has hardly any interest in building new dams and water reservoirs.
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