Pope Francis on Sunday, August 28, assured the people of Pakistan who were devastated by floods caused by monsoon rains, of his prayers.
“I want to assure the people of Pakistan, hit by a flood of disastrous proportions, of my closeness,” said the pope during Angelus at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Collemaggio in L’Aquila, Italy.
“I pray for the numerous victims, for the wounded and those forced from their homes, and that international solidarity might be prompt and generous,” said Pope Francis.
Pakistan has appealed for international help as the death toll in the South Asian nation continues to rise.
Officials in Pakistan said this year’s monsoon flooding has affected more than 33 million people, destroying or badly damaging nearly a million homes.
On Sunday, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority said the death toll from the monsoon rains had reached 1,033, with 119 killed in the previous 24 hours.
It said this year’s floods are comparable to 2010 — the worst on record — when over 2,000 people died and nearly a fifth of the country was under water.
Thousands of people living near flood-swollen rivers in Pakistan’s north were ordered to evacuate from danger zones, but army helicopters and rescuers are still plucking laggards to safety.
Officials blame the devastation on human-driven climate change, saying Pakistan is unfairly bearing the consequences of irresponsible environmental practices elsewhere in the world.
Pakistan is eighth on NGO Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index, a list of countries deemed most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change.
Exacerbating the situation, corruption, poor planning and the flouting of local regulations mean thousands of buildings have been erected in areas prone to seasonal flooding.
The government has declared an emergency and mobilized the military to deal with what Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman has called “a catastrophe of epic scale.”
The flooding could not come at a worse time for Pakistan, where the economy is in free fall and the former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted by a parliamentary vote of no confidence in April.
While the capital Islamabad and adjoining twin garrison city of Rawalpindi have escaped the worst of the flooding, its effects were still being felt. – with a report from AFP