Pakistan PM says his flooded country faces food shortages

UN urges international community to send more help



By AP

Published: Mon 12 Sep 2022, 2:42 PM

Pakistan is grappling with food shortages after deadly floods left the impoverished country's agriculture belt underwater, the prime minister told the Turkish president by phone, as authorities scaled up efforts Monday to deliver food, tents and other items.

Shahbaz Sharif spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan overnight to thank Turkey for dispatching food, tents and medicine by 12 military aircraft, four trains and Turkish Red Crescent trucks.

A government statement said Sharif briefed Erdogan about the government's relief activities and sought assistance from Turkey in overcoming the “food shortage." Sharif also sought help from Turkey on reconstruction work in the flood-hit areas.

More than 660,000 people, including women and children, are living at relief camps and in makeshift homes after floods damaged their homes across the country and forced them to move to safer places. Pakistan, the country's military, UN agencies and local charities are providing food to these flood victims.

Pakistan heavily relies on its agriculture and occasionally exports its surplus wheat to Afghanistan and other countries. Now it is in talks to import badly needed wheat and vegetables, including to people not directly affected by floods.

Meanwhile, the price of vegetables and other food has started increasing.

Until last week, floodwater was covering around a third of Pakistan, including the country's agriculture belt in eastern Punjab and southern Sundh provinces which are the main food basket. Initially, Pakistan said the floods caused $10 billion in damages, but authorities say the damages are far greater than the initial estimates.

This has forced Pakistan and the United Nations to urge the international community to send more help.

In response, UN agencies and various countries have sent more than 60 plane-loads of aid.

Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a visit to Pakistan travelled to flood-hit areas, where deluges from floods are still causing damage.

Guterres has called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the dangerous environmental crisis. He assured Sharif in a meeting with him that he will do his best to highlight the ordeal of Pakistanis facing floods.

Deluges from the rising Indus river and the Lake Manchar in the Sindh province were still posing threat to Dadu, a district in the south where rescuers using boats were evacuating villagers to safer places Monday. Light rain is expected in flood-hit areas this week, according to the Meteorological Department.

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