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Pakistan devastated by deluge

One-third of the country is underwater and over 1,100 people have died


A man and his sons wade through floodwaters in Charsadda, Pakistan, on Thursday. Associated Press/Photo by Mohammad Sajjad

Pakistan devastated by deluge

Hip deep in water, a man pulled a floating, overturned bed along.  A BBC video showed a woman, several children, and their few belongings sitting on the makeshift raft. Elsewhere in Pakistan, lands that were once green swaths neatly organized for farming have become brown, muddy sprawls. And like other parts of the country’s infrastructure, large buildings fell into the rushing water, leaving behind only rubble.

Since the monsoon rains began in June, floods have led to the deaths of more than 1,100 Pakistanis and submerged one-third of the country. The waters have destroyed more than 1 million homes, washed away more than 2,175 miles of roads, and killed about 1 million animals, according to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Officials say the floods have caused up to $10 billion in damage.

During this year’s monsoon season, Pakistan’s rainfall has been almost three times the national average for the past 30 years. A recent heat wave has caused the melting of Himalayan glaciers, causing glacial lake outburst floods.

Pakistani Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman blamed the floods on global temperature increases. She said they have created a warmer atmosphere that holds more moisture and leads to heavier rainfall.

With many health clinics wrecked, water sources contaminated, and latrines ruined, Pakistanis are at increased risk of diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, and other waterborne diseases. And pregnant women, numbering almost 650,000 in the flood-affected areas, are facing additional health challenges. Almost 73,000 women are expected to deliver their babies this month, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

In Sindh, a woman named Shabana and her 1-month-old baby struggle for food. She is unable to breastfeed him as she has “no milk to give,” she told the BBC. “I am afraid for him.”

World radar

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis named 20 new cardinals on Saturday in St. Peter’s Basilica. It marked the eighth time that the pontiff has elevated clergy to that rank. Francis, 85, who was elected pope in 2013, has now named 83 of the 132 cardinals who are under 80 years old and thus eligible to elect his successor. Archbishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili became East Timor’s first cardinal. Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad, India, is the first member of the Dalit community, considered the lowest rung of the country’s caste system, to be appointed as a cardinal. Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, known for his more liberal leanings on various church issues, was also promoted.

CHINA: As the Chinese government tightens control over religion, Wang Yang, a member of the country’s highest policy-making body, told state-supported Catholic Church elders their faith needs to “better adapt itself to a socialist society,” Radio Free Asia reported last Friday. His remarks came as authorities have required individuals and organizations to obtain a license to disseminate religious content online. Unable to obtain the permit, the development team of CathAssist, a Catholic app that provided recorded Bible teachings, announced last Tuesday it suspended the program. The license is to prevent people from offering religious teachings online, said Liu Yi, a Protestant pastor residing in California.

WORLDWIDE: 1 million people have died from COVID-19 this year, according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. As one-third of the world’s population remains unvaccinated, he urged all governments to vaccinate all health workers, senior citizens, and those at highest risk. The WHO had set a target for 70 percent of the global population to be fully vaccinated by mid-2022. The New York Times updated its map last month that shows the differences among vaccination programs worldwide.

INDONESIA: Umar Patek, who made bombs that killed 202 people in Bali in 2002, was granted a sentence reduction in mid-August, The Guardian reported. The 52-year-old former member of an al-Qaeda-linked terror group has served two-thirds of his 20-year sentence. Having completed a deradicalization program, Patek has shown progress toward reform, said Teguh Wibowo, spokesman of East Java’s law and human rights ministry office. But Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese does not welcome Patek’s early release. He said the Indonesian government’s decision will add trauma for the families of the victims, who included 88 Australians.

SUDAN: After more than 30 years, Sudanese journalists have formed the country’s first independent union. Abdulmoniem Abu Idrees, a 58-year-old Khartoum correspondent for the Agence France-Presse news agency, won Sunday’s election as the union’s president. The last independent journalists’ union dissolved in 1989 when Omar al-Bashir came to power. His regime arrested hundreds of reporters. Bashir was ousted in 2019, but since the military coup in October 2021, security forces have renewed the crackdown on the media. Besides freedom of speech, the new union, which has 1,164 members, will advocate for health and social insurance and paid maternity leave.

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