Pakistan floods are ‘a monsoon on steroids’, warns UN chief

Pakistan is facing "a monsoon on steroids", the UN's secretary general has warned, after floods submerged a third of the country.

By Simon Fraser for BBC News

Antonio Guterres urged the world to come to Pakistan’s aid as he launched a $160m appeal to help the tens of millions affected in the disaster. He blamed “the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding”. At least 1,136 people have been killed since June and roads, crops, homes and bridges washed away across the country.

This year’s record monsoon is comparable to the devastating floods of 2010 – the deadliest in Pakistan’s history – which left more than 2,000 people dead. In a video message, Mr Guterres called South Asia a “climate crisis hotspot” where people were 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts. “Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.”

He said the UN appeal aimed to provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency education and health support. Officials estimate that more than 33 million Pakistanis – one in seven people – have been affected by the flooding. Sadia, a student in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, said she felt helpless as her family were cut off in their home village of Jhal Magsi, about eight hours away.

“You can’t find a single home that is safe now,” she told the BBC’s Outside Source programme. “They are under the sky with no help. “Right now, we are in need of first aid relief like tents, some shelter and some basic food, they can’t cook anything. And they need clean water to drink.”