‘Monsoon on steroids’: Today it’s Pakistan, tomorrow it could be your country, warns UN chief

·2-min read

Pakistan has been struck by a “monsoon on steroids” that has killed more than 1,000 people and injured many more, the head of the United Nations has said.

Launching an appeal for the devastated country on Tuesday, Antonio Guterres said millions of people have been made homeless, schools and health facilities have been destroyed, livelihoods shattered and critical infrastructure wiped out by the floods.

“The scale of needs is rising like the flood waters,” he said in a video message, announcing a flash appeal for $160m (£137m) to support the response. “It requires the world’s collective and prioritized attention.”

Aerial view of homes surrounded by floodwaters in Sohbat Pur city (AP)
Aerial view of homes surrounded by floodwaters in Sohbat Pur city (AP)
Two women cross a temporary bamboo path near their flooded house in Shikarpur of Sindh province on Monday (AFP via Getty Images)
Two women cross a temporary bamboo path near their flooded house in Shikarpur of Sindh province on Monday (AFP via Getty Images)

The United Nations has said the funds will provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation and education, protection and health support.

Flash floods have inundated around a third of the country in recent weeks washing away roads, crops and infrastructure in their path. The country’s planning minister Ahsan Iqbal estimated on Monday that the floods could cost Pakistan more than $10bn (£8.6bn).

Scientists have said that the floods in Pakistan have the hallmarks of a crisis made worse by climate breakdown, but it will take a specific attribution study to assess to what extent the climate emergency influenced the flooding.

In his message on Tuesday, Mr Guterres who described the flooding as a “climate catastrophe” warned that South Asia is one of the world’s climate crisis “hotspots” where people are 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts.

A damaged mosque is surrounded by floodwaters in Bahrain, Pakistan (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
A damaged mosque is surrounded by floodwaters in Bahrain, Pakistan (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“It is outrageous that climate action is being put on the back burner as global emissions of greenhouse gases are still rising, putting all of us – everywhere – in growing danger,” he said. “Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change.”

“Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.”