Pakistan Floods Displace 1M More, U.N. Says

“Flooding has displaced an additional 1 million people in Pakistan’s Sindh province in the past two days, according to new U.N. estimates released Friday,” CNN reports.  

“We have more people on the move, to whom we need to provide relief. An already colossal disaster is getting worse and requiring an even more colossal response,” said Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesperson for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “The magnitude of this crisis is reaching levels that are even beyond our initial fears, which were already leaning towards what we thought would be the worst. The number of those affected and those in need of assistance from us are bound to keep rising. The floods seem determined to outrun our response,” he said (8/27).

“It is difficult to verify figures given by the authorities because many areas are hard to reach because of the floods, and people may have left their homes well before evacuation orders,” the Associated Press notes (Khna, 8/27). In most parts of Pakistan, floodwaters are starting to recede, but some areas are still under threat, Reuters reports (Aziz, 8/27). 

The AP points out that the “latest evacuations came after the Taliban issued a veiled threat against foreign aid workers helping out after the floods, a development likely to complicate the massive relief effort” (Khan, 8/27). On Thursday, Taliban militants described the presence of foreign aid workers as “unacceptable” and suggested that they might be attacked, AP/Bloomberg News/Dallas Morning News reports.

“A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Azam Tariq, said that the U.S. and other countries that have pledged support were not really focused on providing aid to flood victims but had other motives he did not specify. ‘Behind the scenes they have certain intentions, but on the face they are talking of relief and help,’ Tariq said by telephone. ‘No relief is reaching the affected people, and when the victims are not receiving help, then this horde of foreigners is not acceptable to us at all.’ He strongly hinted that the militants could resort to violence, saying, ‘When we say something is unacceptable to us, one can draw one’s own conclusion'” (8/27).

“Pakistan’s floods are looking ever more monstrous. … Everywhere it is becoming clearer how social, economic and political misery will endure for a long time yet,” the Economist writes in an article examining the latest flood developments and impact. The article notes the number of homeless people, details the aid effort and looks at the political consequences of the floods.

The article also discusses health and food security: “The threat of epidemic disease lurks in unhygienic, crowded camps and back in villages where putrefying animals lie under the mud and in pools of stagnant water. But hunger may prove to be a bigger problem. An estimated 23% of the year’s harvest was washed away, including a quarter of the cotton crop, which matters to the economy. About 2.6m acres of cultivated land have been drowned, says Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority. Officials say that the rehabilitation will take three years, barring more floods. Food inflation will hurt even the driest of the poor” (8/26).

Pakistan Says It Wants To Stick With IMF Loan As Talks Continue

Pakistani Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Thursday that the country would like to stick with its current International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan program, Reuters reports.

“We want to remain on track with the IMF program because that is a reform program that we are ourselves undertaking,” Shaikh said. “We want to continue to demonstrate our resolve to take difficult decisions,” he added. He also discussed the impact of the flood and said the country wants “our partners in the international community to understand the emerging situation” (8/26).

Pakistani government and IMF officials “are considering ‘all options’ during talks that will extend into next week to help the country cope with the consequences of floods that are devastating its economy, [IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice] said,” Bloomberg writes. The IMF is collaborating with Pakistani authorities “to assist them in designing measures to overcome these difficulties whilst keeping the Pakistani economy on the path to sustainability,” he said (Rastello, 8/26).  

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