We stand together UAE at the centre of flood relief efforts in Pakistan | By Engr Qaiser Nawab


We stand together UAE at the centre of flood relief efforts in Pakistan

OVER the past few decades, the world has witnessed a significant increase in the number and magnitude of natural disasters, exacting a heavy socio-economic toll on humanity.

From high-rise tides in the oceans to cyclonic storms, from record high temperatures to droughts in some parts of the world, and from heavy torrential rains to flash floods, drastic changes in climate patterns all have been witnessed, and the world is currently bearing the repercussions of the current wave of climatic change in the form of various catastrophic tragedies.

The first half of the year 2022 fared no better and will ostensibly be remembered for the deadly hydro-meteorological disaster in Pakistan, causing sobering and stark devastation to one-third of the total country.

Pakistan contributes less than 1% of CO2 emissions and ironically as per the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, it has been ranked 8th as the most vulnerable country to the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

In almost 20 years – from 2000 to 2019 – the country has suffered 173 extreme weather-related loss events, financially damaging the economy of USD 3.8 billion.

The recent flooding has affected more than 33 million people, causing massive economic loss, food shortage and significant internal displacement.

The nation is suffering from a loss of USD 20 billion in overall economic output, with about 1700 flood-related fatalities being reported, along with significant infrastructure damage and cattle deaths.

As per the UN Flash Appeal, 20.6 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

With the global call for help, this “climate carnage”, as António Guterres, United Nations General Secretary, termed the catastrophic devastation in Pakistan, has received wide international attention with a quick and massive response.

While working in collaboration with local actors and the government of Pakistan, the international community is extending its support for long-term prevention and rehabilitation.

The United Arab Emirates and Pakistan have long enjoyed a history of cordial relationship referred to as “brotherhood”.

Pakistan has always counted on the UAE as its most trustworthy and dependable ally.

The UAE’s leaders have offered Pakistan their technical and financial assistance, along with other measures to help overcome the barriers impeding advancement in the socio-economic spheres.

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s passion for the people of Pakistan is reflected in the United Arab Emirate’s Pakistan Assistance Program (UAEPAP).

Under this program, the UAE has been helping Pakistan in a variety of ways, such as advancements in health indicators and building hospitals, improvement in economic conditions and eradicating unemployment, development of road infrastructure, education, access to drinking water and sanitation and disaster management by providing medical care, food, shelter and long-term rehabilitation.

In the wake of record-breaking monsoon rains and flash floods since mid-June, the UAE was again one of the first nations to offer humanitarian assistance to flood-affected people in Pakistan.

With its unwavering spirit of humanitarianism and friendly relations with Pakistan, the UAE is at the forefront of relief provision led by H.E.Mr.Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al Zaabi, the most energetic and competent Ambassador in the diplomatic crops.

With the noble initiative of “We Stand Together,” the UAE government has united hundreds of volunteers from the seven emirates to offer life-saving support to the flood-affected population in Pakistan.

“We Stand Together” was launched in close collaboration with the UAE’s ministries of community development, foreign affairs and international cooperation, by the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), Dubai Cares, and Sharjah Charity International.

Nine other international agencies and aid organizations, including the he Big Heart Foundation, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment and the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, also took part in the philanthropic endeavour.

So far, at least 16 humanitarian flights, organized by the UAE, have been received by Pakistan, bringing tons of urgently needed items, such as food, tents, and medical equipment, to assist the flood affectees.

The UAE’s contribution to the relief and rescue operation consists of 220,000 food packets, 50,000 blankets, 12,000 tents, 6,000 mineral water bottles, 227 tons of dates and kitchen utensils.

Other than these, hygiene kits comprising necessary amenities for women and children like diapers, sanitary napkins and soaps were sent.

The food supplies including products such as wheat, rice, lentils, oil and other non-perishable items were also part of the relief packages.

In collaboration with UNICEF, two teams of medical professionals from the UAE are working in Peshawar and Jacobabad to immunize 6,000 mothers and children from various fatal diseases caused by heavy floods.

The UAE Red Crescent Society has established two temporary camps in the Punjab area and has already disbursed 534 tons of humanitarian aid throughout the province.

Pakistan has received heartfelt condolences and support from many in the UAE.

The relief and recovery efforts for Pakistan successfully helped cope with the severe natural humanitarian disaster.

By the virtue of their kindness, the people of UAE have ushered hope for the flood affectees and brought much-needed relief in these times of distress.

Appallingly, Pakistan has become one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change with effects as far-reaching as geo-political and socio-political instability in the country.

The disastrous effect of these changes on the people’s life is quite severe and will become worse with time.

Although Pakistan has witnessed UAE’s endearing relief efforts, it is clear that long-term rehabilitation for Pakistan’s population and environment will be a difficult task needing significant ongoing resources and steadfast international assistance.

The need of the hour is to initiate urgent and better-informed policy improvements at a micro level.

Priorities for policy should be set according to the sustainability agenda for the environment; to protect and conserve it by controlling water bodies and their flow and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The government can work to promote environment-friendly infrastructure, raise knowledge of ecological issues, initiate more plantation drives, conserve water and reduce the production of unsanitary waste and pollutants.

—The writer is a Global Peace and Climate Activist, United Nations SDGs Advocate, Freelance Journalist and an expert on Middle East & Central Asia.


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