ISLAMABAD (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency rushed to provide the most desperately needed aid Monday in flooded Pakistan as the country’s prime minister traveled to the south, where rising Lake Manchar waters pose a new threat.
Two UNHCR aircraft landed in the southern port of Karachi and two more were expected later in the day. A third plane, aided by Turkmenistan, also landed in Karachi. While flooding in recent weeks has affected much of Pakistan, the southern province of Sindh, where Karachi is the capital, has been hardest hit.
More than 1,300 people have been killed and millions left homeless in floods caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan this year, which many experts have blamed on climate change. In response to the unfolding disaster, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the crisis. He plans to visit flood-affected areas on September 9.
On Sunday, engineers cut an embankment on the sides of Lake Manchar in an attempt to release rising floodwaters to save the city of Sehwan and several nearby villages from possible destruction by floods that have destroyed 1.6 million homes from the inside June. .
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was met by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto in the city of Sukkur on the swollen Indus River, from where they toured the flood-affected areas by helicopter. helicopter. Murad Ali Shah, the provincial chief minister, briefed Sharif on the damage caused by the floods in Sindh.
The floods have affected more than 3.3 million in this Islamic nation of 220 million and the disaster has caused $10 billion in damage, according to government estimates. The provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been worst affected and the majority of people killed were women and children.
Afghan refugees living in Pakistan have also been affected. Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghans fleeing violence in their country over the past four decades and currently has around 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees.
More than 420,000 Afghan refugees are estimated to be in the worst-affected areas of Pakistan, living side by side with their host communities
Also on Sunday, UNICEF delivered relief supplies, including medicine and water purification tablets, as part of a UN appeal for $160 million to support Pakistan’s flood response. UNICEF is also appealing for $37 million for children and families.
“The floods have left children and families out in the countryside without access to basic necessities,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF’s representative in Pakistan.
Planes carrying aid from other countries are also expected later on Monday in response to a call by Sharif, who appealed to the international community to help Pakistan.
With UNHCR’s two planes, 38 planes have brought aid from countries including China, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.
Associated Press writer Muhammad Farooq in Jaffarabad, Pakistan, contributed to this report.