Pakistan floods hit 33m people

UN chief blames ‘monsoon on steroids’ on the global climate crisis

People push a cart loaded with belongings through flood water
People stranded by flooding in the Jaffarabad district of Balochistan province, southwestern Pakistan
(Image credit: Fida Hussain/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, are estimated to have been affected by deadly flooding, with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif describing the disaster as the “toughest moment” in Pakistan’s history.

The summer rain is the “heaviest recorded in a decade”, reported the BBC, and government ministers are claiming that Pakistan is paying the price for global climate change. “We are suffering from it but it is not our fault at all,” Sharif told a press conference on Tuesday.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the South Asian nation had been devastated by a “monsoon on steroids” and the “climate catastrophe” had killed “more than 1,000 people, with many more injured”.

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“South Asia is one of the world’s global climate crisis hotspots,” he told a news conference, adding that people living in the “hotspots” are 15 times more likely to die from the impact of changing climates.

The UN chief launched an urgent humanitarian appeal to member countries for $160m, which would be used to support the government’s response to the disaster and provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency education, protection and support.

A third of Pakistan is believed to be underwater, with the floods estimated to have caused over $10bn in damages, reported ITV News. The National Disaster Management Authority said the death toll from the monsoon rains and floods had reached 1,136.

Around half a million of those displaced are living in organised camps, said The Guardian, while others have had to find their own shelter.

Pakistan is responsible for “less than 1% of the world’s planet-warming gases”, said CNN, but is the eighth most vulnerable nation to the climate crisis, according to the Global Climate Risk Index.

“Let’s stop sleepwalking toward the destruction of our planet by climate change,” said Guterres. “Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.”

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Chas Newkey-Burden has been part of The Week Digital team for more than a decade and a journalist for 25 years, starting out on the irreverent football weekly 90 Minutes, before moving to lifestyle magazines Loaded and Attitude. He was a columnist for The Big Issue and landed a world exclusive with David Beckham that became the weekly magazine’s bestselling issue. He now writes regularly for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro, FourFourTwo and the i new site. He is also the author of a number of non-fiction books.