Picture: Fida HUSSAIN / AFP – Flood-affected children sit on a charpai alongside flood waters after heavy monsoon rains in Jaffarabad district of Balochistan province on August 31, 2022. Army helicopters flew sorties over cut-off areas in Pakistan’s mountainous north on August 31 and rescue parties fanned out across waterlogged plains in the south as misery mounted for millions trapped by the worst floods in the country’s history.
By Shifaan Ryklief
This past week in news from around the world, Pakistan faced a monsoon on steroids while deadly protests rocked Iraq and the first ship carrying Ukraine grain arrived in Djibouti.
Following the political tensions in Pakistan when former prime minister Imran Khan was charged under the anti-terror law for criticising police and a judicial officer during a rally, this week the country was hit with devastating floods that affected millions of people.
The disaster which killed more than 1,100 people led UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appeal for $160 million (about R2.7bn) in a bid to help the country during this time.
Guterres said Pakistan was awash in suffering due to the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding.
“The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids,” said Guterres.
“Millions are homeless, schools and health facilities have been destroyed, livelihoods are shattered, critical infrastructure wiped out, and people’s hopes and dreams have washed away,” he said.
Guterres added that the colossal crisis required urgent, collective action in order to help the government and people of Pakistan in their hour of need.
Video: Shifaan Ryklief
According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), more than two million acres (about 800,000 hectares) of cultivated crops have been wiped out, around 3 457km of roads destroyed, and 157 bridges washed away.
In Iraq, thousands of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s supporters stormed major Iraqi government buildings in Baghdad, sparking clashes that left at least 12 people killed and dozens wounded.
Iraqi security forces fired tear gas canisters and bullets in the air to disperse the protesters who stormed the compounds, while sporadic shootouts from unknown gunmen occurred inside the heavily fortified zone, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a source from the Interior Ministry.
The EU expressed its concern over the violent protests and released a statement that urged all parties to exercise restraint “to prevent further violence” and invited “political forces to solve issues through a constructive political dialogue within the constitutional framework”.
Meanwhile, Turkey has urged its citizens to avoid travelling to Baghdad and called for “inclusive dialogue” to resolve the ongoing crisis.
“Turkiye is concerned about the developments in brotherly Iraq,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
Moscow was also closely following the developments in Iraq and called on opposing sides in the country to launch a dialogue, a source in the Russian foreign ministry told Sputnik.
Russia also launched the opening of the Vostok-2022 strategic military drills with China at the Sergeevsky training ground in Russia’s Primorsky Region on Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry said.
“On August 31, the opening ceremony of the Vostok-2022 strategic command post exercises [SCPE] took place at the Sergeevsky training ground in the Primorsky Region. In a solemn atmosphere, during the general construction of military contingents participating in the SCPE, the flag of the Vostok-2022 exercises was raised,” the ministry told reporters.
More than 2,000 Chinese soldiers and 300 units of Chinese automotive military equipment will take part in the Vostok-2022 exercises, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Moscow also mourned the death of the last Soviet leader and Russian Nobel Peace laureate Mikhail Gorbachev who died in at the age of 91.
“This evening, after a serious and long illness, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev died,” the Central Clinical Hospital (CCH) in the Russian capital announced.
The statesman is to be buried next to his wife in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery, the burial place of many of Russia’s most famous politicians, writers and composers.
The internationally respected statesman was often credited for bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end and for his instrumental role in German reunification. East Germans in particular still revere “Gorbi,” as the man who brought them freedom over three decades ago.
Furthermore, the World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed that the first United Nations-chartered ship loaded with Ukrainian wheat arrived in Djibouti.
“The first WFP ship to carry Ukrainian grain since February has just arrived in Djibouti,” WFP executive director David Beasley said in a Twitter post. “Now, let us get this wheat offloaded and on to Ethiopia,” Beasley added.
According to the WFP, the ship arrived in the Red Sea nation of Djibouti after 14 days at sea, carrying 23,000 tons of wheat from Ukraine.
The WFP said the wheat will be used to support its humanitarian response in Ethiopia, where over 20 million people face hunger.
Ryklief is a multimedia journalist at African News Agency (ANA)