Pakistan Reopens Highway to Speed Aid to Flood Victims

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Pakistani engineers and soldiers cleared a major highway on Thursday to help aid workers expedite supplies to survivors of a devastating flood that left hundreds of thousands homeless and killed 1,508 people, most of them women. And there were children.

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Traffic between the flood-hit city of Quetta, capital of south-western Balochistan province and southern Sindh province, was suspended for weeks as floods damaged a major highway. The blockade forced the army to provide aid to the victims by helicopters and boats.

According to a government statement, as soon as they reopened the route, engineers in Balochistan also restored power supply to millions of people. And as the disaster’s fatal toll became clear, the UN children’s agency said Thursday that 528 children were among those killed in the floods.

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The National Flood Response and Coordination Center said this summer’s monsoons and floods – the worst deluge in living memory – destroyed 390 bridges and washed away more than 12,000 kilometers of roads across the country. The flooding of roads affected the government’s response to the floods, and people complained that they waited weeks later for the government’s help.

According to the National Disaster Management Agency, the crisis has affected more than 33 million people, damaged 1.8 million homes and displaced at least half a million people who are still living in tents and makeshift homes. Water has destroyed 70% of wheat, cotton and other crops in Pakistan. At one time a third of the country’s land was submerged in flood waters.

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But the government insisted in a statement on Thursday that there was no shortage of food in Pakistan and plans were being drawn up to import some of the food items.

Initially, Pakistan was estimated to have caused $10 billion in damages from the floods, but now many economists say the cost of the damage exceeds $30 billion. This is more than five times the amount the government of Pakistan received under the 2019 bailout signed with the International Monetary Fund.

A sick girl and woman are treated at a temporary medical center setting in an abandoned building in Jafrabad, a flood-hit district of Balochistan province, Pakistan, on September 15, 2022.

The Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday that so far 100 flights from various countries and international aid agencies have carried much-needed supplies. The United Nations weeks ago urged the international community to help generously with relief, rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

On Wednesday, Julian Harnis, the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Pakistan, told reporters that member states have so far pledged $150 million in response to an emergency appeal worth $160 million. So far, he said, a pledge of $38 million from the world community has been converted into aid for Pakistan.

On Thursday, World Health Organization representative in Pakistan Palitha Gunaratna Mahipala handed over medical equipment and medicines for flood victims to Provincial Health Minister Azra Fazal Pechuho in Karachi, capital of the country’s flood-hit province of Sindh. ,

Mahipal told a press conference that he had visited the flood-affected areas, where WHO personnel were on the ground, providing medical camps and mobile medical clinics. He said the WHO would soon provide more aid, vehicles and boats to the Sindh government so that officials could use them to reach flood victims in remote areas.

In addition, the WHO has been helping Pakistan combat outbreaks of waterborne and other diseases among flood victims in Sindh and elsewhere in the country over the past several weeks.

The poor nation is using the funds allocated for development projects to help the flood victims. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif this week promised the country’s homeless people that the government would ensure they were paid to rebuild and return to their lives. With winter just a few weeks away, the displaced people living in tents are worried about their future.


Source: www.voanews.com

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