The poor bear the brunt of the deadly floods that struck Pakistan in recent weeks, affecting about 33 million people, destroying homes and infrastructures.
“As always, it is the poor who pay the price,” said Cardinal Joseph Coutts, archbishop emeritus of Karachi.
“They have houses with weak structures, and the mud and the water destroy everything and are very dangerous,” he said in an interview with Vatican News.
The cardinal was in the Vatican this week to attend the meeting of Church leaders called by Pope Francis to discuss reforms in the Catholic Church.
The Pakistani cardinal shared that that during the rainy season, “it starts to pour in the country,” but he said “it has been raining regularly almost every day for two months without interruption.”
“We have not had so much rain as this in the past 30 years,” said Cardinal Coutts.
He said the rain has reached the mountains and the water has flooded all the way down to the sea, causing “unprecedented destruction.”
The cardinal said the government and the Catholic Church tried their best to help the most affected, but he said the disaster was enormous.
“Material aid such as clothes and food that does not spoil is urgently needed, for example, grain and oil,” he said.
On Sunday, August 28, Pope Francis assured the people of Pakistan 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.
The country’s Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman described the disaster as a “crisis of unimaginable proportions.”
Officials say at least 33 million people — one in every seven Pakistanis — have been affected by the floods, which have killed 1,136 people since the monsoon began in June.
Vast parts of farmland in southern Sindh and western Balochistan provinces are now just landscapes of water, while in the north, roads and bridges have been washed away by raging mountain rivers.
“To see the devastation on the ground is really mind-boggling,” Rehman told AFP in an interview.
“When we send in water pumps, they say ‘Where do we pump the water?’ It’s all one big ocean, there’s no dry land to pump the water out.”
Rehman said “literally a third” of Pakistan was under water, describing it as akin to a dystopian movie.
She also expected the death toll to rise as many areas in the north of the country, where dozens of rivers are still in full flood, remain cut off.
Pakistan is responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but is eighth on a list compiled by the NGO Germanwatch of countries deemed most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change.
“It’s time for the big emitters to review their policies. We have crossed what is clearly a threshold,” she said.
“The multilateral forum pledges or ambitions voiced by other countries — the rich countries, that have gotten rich on the back of fossil fuels — they don’t really come through.”
Rehman said Pakistan’s economy, already in crisis, would be badly hit by the flooding. – with reports from Vatican News and AFP