ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday thanked Saudi Arabia, Middle Eastern countries, China, and the United States for helping flood victims in Pakistan, saying that in times of crisis “the world did not leave us alone.”
The record-breaking floods — worsened by climate change — hit Pakistan in June last year, killing more than 1,700 people, and affecting 33 million others. According to official data, in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province alone, the devastating floods affected 12 million people and killed almost 800.
Islamabad has sought the world’s help to scale up rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the country. As the winter season approaches, a large number of flood victims remain without shelter and are prone to diseases.
On Tuesday, the foreign minister told a group of journalists in Sindh’s Dadu district that flood victims were still in trouble. He said that at one point in time, one-third of the country was inundated with flood water, saying it was unprecedented in world history.
He thanked world powers, including Saudi Arabia, China, the US, and other countries in the Middle East for stepping forward and providing financial aid to Pakistan.
“[In times of crisis] the world did not leave us alone, it helped us. I am grateful to Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, China, and the US for helping flood victims,” Bhutto-Zardari told reporters. He thanked UN Secretary-General António Guterres for visiting Pakistan’s flood-affected areas.
The minister said the floods triggered a “doomsday before doomsday”, due to which the country is still struggling to overcome the effects of the calamity.
“Together, we have to make efforts to get people out of their misery as some areas of Sindh and Balochistan are still inundated,” he said. “Even places from where the water has receded are facing extensive devastation.”
He added that in the aftermath of the floods, the infrastructure of 50 percent of educational institutions across Sindh has been damaged due to which children have lost access to education.
“We will carry out a survey and will compensate flood victims accordingly,” the minister said, adding that the provincial government in Sindh would also provide interest-free loans to flood victims.
The minister also said that he would highlight the plight of the flood victims and talk about the future course of action related to climate change at the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan, which is set to take place on January 9 in Geneva, Switzerland.