“We are not living here by choice. Everything we own is underwater,” says a rescued villager near Mehar, the latest city to be flooded in Pakistan due to record rainfall and the overflowing Indus River.
Navy volunteers have raced out on lifeboats to deliver aid and ferry people in need of medical care back to the city, while the displaced are now forced to live in makeshift camps.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres completed the second day of a two-day visit to Pakistan on Saturday, which has been devastated by months of heavy monsoon rains and flooding.
At least 1,396 people have been killed, 12,728 injured and millions left homeless. The waters have also destroyed road and communications infrastructure.
I’ve seen many humanitarian disasters in the world, but I have never seen climate carnage on this scale. I have simply no words to describe what I’ve seen today. A flooded area that is three times the total area of my own country, Portugal,” Guterres said.
“Pakistan needs today massive financial support to overcome this crisis.”
“The needs are enormous, and I urge massive and urgent financial support for Pakistan — and this is not a matter of generosity, this is a matter of justice. Pakistan is paying the price of something that was created by others”, he added.
‘Nobody knows where their village is anymore’
The UN chief toured flood-affected areas of the district of Sukkur in southern Sindh province and Osta Mohammad in southwest Baluchistan province — some of the worst affected areas of the country.
Miles of cotton and sugarcane crops, banana orchards and vegetable fields in the two provinces were submerged in floodwaters.
Thousands of mud and brick homes caved in under the deluge, leaving people homeless and sheltering in tents alongside damaged roads.
Beyond the shoreline in southern Sindh, hundreds of villages and swathes of farmland are lost beneath the water — destroyed by the torrents that have affected nearly a third of the country.
“Nobody knows where their village is anymore. The common man can no longer recognise his own home,” says Ayaz Ali, whose village is now submerged under nearly seven metres of water.
Guterres’ comments came after he was briefed by the chief minister of Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, on the destruction in his province.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and some of his Cabinet members accompanied the UN’s top official during his visit.
Guterres expressed solidarity with the Pakistani people and said the UN would use its limited resources to help and requested that “those who have the capacity to support Pakistan, do it now and do it massively.”
Since June, the heavy rains and floods have added a new level of grief to cash-strapped Pakistan and highlighted the disproportionate effect of climate change on impoverished populations.
Experts say Pakistan is responsible for only 0.4% of the world’s emissions that have had a negative effect on climate change.
The US is responsible for 21.5% of those, China for 16.5%, and the European Union for 15%.