Flood relief activities and role of Pakistan Navy

The government and its affiliated institutions have launched a multipronged campaign to counter the impact of the unprecedented floods. Pakistan Navy is in the forefront of this effort in Sindh and coastal areas to combat this epic catastrophe due to its specialty in dealing with challenges of an aquatic environment

By Muhammad Arslan

Climate change has become the biggest threat to human life being faced by the modern world.  For 70% of nations in the world today, including Pakistan, climate change is now a national security issue.  This inevitable disaster has a multitude of serious implications for both human society and the environment including glaciers, permafrost, rivers, soils, forests, ecosystems, society, human security and economy etc. These lead to far-reaching consequences like food scarcity, thus making climate change a major security challenge, especially in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh.

A large-scale catastrophic flood has been experienced in August 2022 following heavy monsoon rains in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Punjab regions of Pakistan. The extensive floods caused approximately one-third of Pakistan’s total land area to be submerged. The government has consequently declared a national emergency as the floods killed more than 1600 people in addition to destroyed homes, crops and livestock. The catastrophe caused by floods has affected communities in 116 districts, about 15% of the population with at least 33 million people in dire need of shelter.

The Government of Pakistan and affiliated institutions have launched a multipronged campaign to counter the impact of the unprecedented floods. Pakistan Navy is in the forefront of this effort in Sindh and coastal areas to combat this epic catastrophe due to its speciality in dealing with the challenges of an aquatic environment. Pakistan Navy rescue teams utilizing air assets, motorized boats and life-saving equipment is providing all-out support by reaching out to people in far-flung remote areas. Additionally, in assistance to the civil administration, the provision of medical facilities is also being ensured through medical camps and mobile medical teams in the flood-affected areas. The marooned people in different areas have also been rescued and shifted to safer locations by Pakistan Navy.

According to the National Flood Relief Coordination Centre (NFRCC) over 25,000 people have taken refuge in 19 Navy camps and around 15,500 people have been rescued by 23 emergency response teams of the Pakistan Navy. Moreover, as per NFRCC, 552.95 tons of ration, 344,850 litres of fresh water, 2340 tents and 2530 cooked meals have been distributed by Pakistan Navy. Also, 82 medical camps established by Pakistan Navy have treated around 90000 patients so far.  Moreover, it is not the first time that Pakistan Navy has provided assistance in flood relief activities. Pakistan Navy has always remained pivotal in wholehearted participation in humanitarian assistance, inland as well as abroad. 2005 earthquake, the 2010 floods, 2004 tsunami, 2017 flood relief operations in Sri Lanka are a few catastrophes in this regard.

Now as the flood waters recede, a host of new challenges has emerged, however, global attention as well as national focus to some extent has shifted from the plight of the flood affectees. Apart from the onset of winter requiring the early provision of shelter to affectees, the threat of disease spreading throughout beleaguered communities has added to the cluster of problems arising from the catastrophic flooding. Here the institutions of Pakistan need to tackle the situation at a fast pace with contributions from other institutions/ NGOs.

It must be understood by all stakeholders that there is not a single solution which fits all for emerging non-traditional security threats in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan needs to pay more attention to enhance assessment and proper planning to cater to similar disasters in future. Although, the government came up with a comprehensive National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) but more needs to be done while keeping other associated institutions in the loop.  But this is not Pakistan’s burden alone to bear but a global responsibility as well. Not only should the rest of the world help Pakistan deal with the horrific floods but also take concrete steps to curtail Climate Change.

The author is an MPhil scholar from National Defence University (NDU) Islamabad in International Relations and routinely writes on current affairs.

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