Pakistan’s Unprecedented Super Floods Have Swept Away the Homes of Millions

A minister called the floods, which have killed more than 900 people, a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.”

A newborn baby boy buried in a dirt mound is pulled out by rescuers. He is covered in dust and still has his umbilical cord intact. He suddenly cries out. His mother is nowhere to be found.

These are the heartbreaking images emerging on social media from the super floods ravaging Pakistan that have killed more than 900 people, and impacted one in six Pakistanis or 30 million people, according to the country’s planning and development minister Ahsan Iqbal. 

Sherry Rehman, the country’s climate change minister, called the situation a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.” Pakistan has seen historic levels of monsoon rain this summer. Its worst-hit regions received five to eight times the rain they normally do. 

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The government has declared a national emergency. 

With limited mainstream media access to flooded regions, relief workers and survivors from the country’s impacted rural areas have been documenting and sharing the scale of the devastation on social media. Viral videos raking in millions of views show harrowing glimpses into the conditions of the country’s hardest-hit areas in its Balochistan and Sindh provinces. 

“In Balochistan, which has been the worst impacted, there is a serious lack of accessibility. People live in far-flung places especially in the mountainous areas, and there isn’t proper infrastructure even to reach them. They have become completely cut off,” Khalid Ismail, a relief worker from Balochistan Youth Action Committee, told VICE World News. 

According to digital rights activist Usama Khilji, social media, particularly TikTok, has proven especially useful in calling attention to the floods across the country.

“It’s proving to be helpful in coordinating relief for people in need, as well as creating a critical mass of noise of the need for state response to the unfolding disaster,” Khilji told VICE World News.

The hashtag #FloodsInPakistan has reached number one on Pakistani Twitter, where relief workers have been spearheading the call to raise emergency funds for tents, medicine, food and drinking water. 

Some are concerned that political developments earlier this week involving the former Prime Minister Imran Khan have distracted mainstream media attention from the floods.

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“The media has been preoccupied with the political events occurring in the country. People have taken it upon themselves to show the world what is going on. This is the reality – people have nothing right now,” said Ismail.

According to experts, the country’s annual monsoon rains have been gravely exacerbated by the human-induced climate crisis. 

Pakistan ranks eighth among countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis despite its less than 1 percent contribution to global carbon emissions, according to the Climate Change Risk Index 2021.

Still, many have called out the government for being unprepared for the disaster. The lack of infrastructure and protocols for rescue and relief operations have exacerbated the floods’ impact. 

“Not ready to accept it as a grand failure of public sector development planning, the federal and provincial governments were quick to blame climate change,” wrote climate change expert Ali Tauqeer Sheikh in an Op-ed for DAWN, “instead of [blaming it on] poor early warning systems, poorly functioning government departments, poor building designs, construction guidelines, material standards and of course, the unplanned growth of human settlements.”

Follow Rimal Farrukh on Twitter.

Tagged:

floods, Πακιστάν, south asia, TikTok, worldnews, climate, climate crisis, Natural Disasters

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