One third of Pakistan is submerged in water, after catastrophic flooding caused by what UN Secretary General António Guterres called “a monsoon on steroids.”
Extreme rain in Pakistan has displaced more than 10 million people, prompting fear of a repeat of the country’s devastating 2010 superflood.
Graphic videos of building collapses, narrow urban roads being transformed into rushing waterways, and people being swept away by water have been widely circulated on social media. Stories from survivors are heartbreaking. More than 1,100 people have been confirmed dead due to flooding since June.
The floods are the latest in a horrendous year for extreme weather in Pakistan. Earlier this year, Pakistan sweltered under a record-breaking heatwave where temperatures rose as high as 50 degrees C (122 degrees F) and Himalayan glaciers melted so fast they created flash flooding.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif made a plea for international aid due to the extremity of the climate calamity — prompted by a changing climate that Pakistan has contributed very little to, relative to Western countries. Climate activists are calling for financial assistance to come not in the form of charity but rather as climate reparations.
Now, the Pakistani government has declared a climate catastrophe.
“These are the direct results of climate change,” said Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s top climate official in a BBC interview, urging the nations of the world to provide urgent humanitarian aid.
In 2010, severe rains inundated as much as one-third of the country’s land area, authorities in Pakistan say that this event is just as devastating.
“We are at the moment at the ground zero of the frontline of extreme weather events, in an unrelenting cascade of heatwaves, forest fires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake outbursts, flood events, and now the monster monsoon of the decade is wreaking non-stop havoc throughout the country,” said Rehman.