UN Chief Antonio Guterres calls what caused the fatal floods in Pakistan a “monsoon on steroids” after it has engulfed a third of the country. The flood has already claimed 1,136 lives and is comparable to the 2010 deadly event that killed 2000 people (Fraser, 2022).
The Guardian reports that about 55,000 square kilometres of land are affected by flood waters in Pakistan. Talking about the damage in his country and the suffering of his people, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif says, “More than one million houses are damaged or destroyed. Seventy-two districts of Pakistan are in calamity, all four corners of Pakistan are underwater, and more than 3,500km [2,175 miles] of roads have been washed away. Around one million animals have died (Baloch & Carrington, 2022).
Sharif says that the floods caused $10 billion in damage as he calls for help and assistance from the international community as his country is facing the “toughest moment in its history”.
Heavier than usual monsoon rains began in June 2022 and lasted for several weeks until the end of August 2022, combined with melting glaciers resulting from an intense heatwave in India and Pakistan between March and April 2022, have led to this ongoing catastrophic flooding in Pakistan.
“The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids – the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding,” Guterres says as he appeals for $160 million from the international community to help alleviate the suffering of Pakistanis (Baloch & Carrington, 2022).
“People living in these [climate crisis] hotspots are 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts. As we continue to see more and more extreme weather events around the world, it is outrageous that climate action is being put on the back burner, putting all of us, everywhere, in growing danger”, Guterres adds.
As of writing, the suffering in Pakistan is not over yet. On 30 August, Pakistan’s Flood Forecasting Division said that over the next 24 hours, a very high level of flooding would likely continue in the Kabul River, which flows into Pakistan’s Indus River. Areas submerged in flood waters have already seen a rise in waterborne disease.
Although the country produces less than 1% of global GHG emissions, it is in the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change.
German Watch Global Climate Risk Index has consistently ranked Pakistan among the top 10 most vulnerable countries in the past 20 years.
PM Sharif says that his country is suffering from climate-change-induced floods that they did not cause. “We are suffering from it, but it is not our fault at all,” he expressed in a press conference.
Saroop Ijaz and John Sifton’s article on Human Rights Watch reads: “Pakistan’s government has a human rights obligation to prevent foreseeable harms from climate change and extreme weather events. They should provide assistance to those communities already affected by the floods and take preventive measures to protect the most at-risk groups from foreseeable events.”
“All governments also have a human rights obligation to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to avert even more catastrophic effects of climate change. Those countries most historically responsible for climate change, including top emitters in Europe and North America, should also support vulnerable countries’ adaptation efforts.”
On 29 August, the International Monetary Fund said it had approved a $1.2bn loan for the country. The IMF originally approved the loan in July 2019, conditioned on austerity measures that include removing electricity and fuel subsidies to buffer inflation. But considering the devastation caused by severe flooding, the IMF allowed the governed to use the loan to support its country’s recovery.
Fraser, S. (2022 August 31). Pakistan floods are ‘a monsoon on steroids’, warns UN chief. BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-62722117
Baloch, S., & Carrington, D. (2022, August 30). Pakistan not to blame for climate crisis-fuelled flooding, says PM Shehbaz Sharif. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/aug/30/pakistan-monsoon-on-steroids-flooding-warning-antonio-guterres
Siddiqui, J. (2022, July 7). Pakistan’s Climate Challenges Pose a National Security Emergency. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved from https://www.usip.org/publications/2022/07/pakistans-climate-challenges-pose-national-security-emergency
Ijaz, S. & Sifton, J. (2022, August). ‘Epic’ Pakistan Floods Show Need for Climate Action. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/08/29/epic-pakistan-floods-show-need-climate-action