Austria Helps Flood Victims in Pakistan

PeopleOther ♦ Published: September 7, 2022; 16:30 ♦ (Vindobona)

Following massive flooding in Pakistan as a result of the heavy monsoon rains that have been continuing for many weeks, the Austrian government is providing support on the ground with payments from the Austrian Foreign Ministry's Foreign Disaster Fund. Two million euros in emergency aid from the State Department's Foreign Disaster Fund will help Pakistan with the humanitarian crisis triggered by the climate disaster.

Austria supports Pakistan in this humanitarian crisis triggered by a climate catastrophe. / Picture: ©

As an immediate response to the acute emergency of the Pakistani population, Austria's government has decided in the Council of Ministers to disburse two million euros from the Foreign Disaster Fund (AKF) for Pakistan. One million euros each will be provided to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), respectively, to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

The funds allocated will go toward the "2022 Pakistan Floods Response Plan (FRP)," launched by the United Nations in late August in partnership with the Government of Pakistan, for life-saving interventions in food security, emergency agricultural assistance, shelter, primary health care, protection of vulnerable populations, water and sanitation, women's health and education support.

Austrian NGOs are also active in Pakistan. Caritas is active in several locations in all provinces. The distribution of food packages and tents, as well as medical first aid, have top priority at the moment, according to Caritas.

The massive floods have already claimed more than 1,100 lives within a very short time. According to the Pakistani government, 33 million people, mainly women and children, have been affected by the effects of the monsoon rains and have been left homeless. At least 5.2 million people are in acute humanitarian need, with the number rising rapidly.

A national emergency has been declared due to the severely damaged infrastructure in Pakistan, particularly in the health sector, which was already fragile before the flooding disaster. In addition, the Pakistani government has requested international assistance to deal with the devastating effects of the floods.

Given the heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan and their devastating consequences for the population there, the federal government supports the humanitarian efforts on the ground, emphasized Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer. According to Nehammer, the two million euros will be provided from the resources of the Foreign Disaster Fund. Nehammer explained, "This is another support contribution in line with our humanitarian tradition of helping on the ground. The funds provided will go to the international aid organizations currently helping to alleviate the suffering of those affected."

Austria's Foreign Disaster Fund

Following humanitarian crises and disasters abroad, the federal government can provide funds from the Foreign Disaster Fund for humanitarian aid measures. In 2022, the fund is endowed with 105.96 million euros and is administered by the Foreign Ministry. The Council of Ministers decides on the use of the funds in each case.

The funds are used for the immediate management of the crisis as well as for rehabilitation measures and reconstruction. They are mostly allocated to international organizations or Austrian non-governmental organizations via the Austrian Development Agency or the Foreign Ministry itself.

The Climate crisis also has consequences for Pakistan

This disaster drastically demonstrates the effects of the climate crisis. After 2010, this is the second time in a few years that a catastrophe of unimagined magnitude has occurred, costing the lives of many people and destroying livelihoods. Such extreme weather events are on the rise due to the climate crisis. Pakistan is one of the countries that is considered to be particularly affected. Only in May of this year, temperature highs of around 50 degrees Celsius measured in Pakistan.

Austria's Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said that the flood in Pakistan is another extreme weather event "that proves the increasingly rapid consequences of the climate crisis." Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg also blamed climate change. Both members of the government said it is also Austria's responsibility to help those affected and mitigate the consequences of this disaster. For Schallenberg, "regions cut off from the outside world" are particularly threatened and "humanitarian aid must be provided urgently to support the already struggling health sector."

Countries in the global South are particularly affected by the consequences of climate change and are at risk of falling victim to especially devastating and extreme weather events and natural disasters. To be able to help such regions better in the future, such endangered regions must be strengthened and prepared apriori together with their infrastructure also threatening climate disasters.

In any case, Austria supports the international community on the ground in its humanitarian efforts with aid, according to Schallenberg. For Vice Chancellor Kogler it is also important to emphasize that Austria's mission is also the climate protection efforts, which must be intensified "as quickly and immediately as possible".

Climate change brings with it devastating natural disasters that endanger human settlements and human life. The climate crisis will also bring other extreme climate changes in the coming years.

BMEIA Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs

ADA Austrian Development Agency