Over the conference recess, I joined Islamic Relief on a visit to Sindh, Pakistan to have a look at the lifesaving work they have been doing to help local communities affected by flooding last year.
Last year, Pakistan witnessed devastating monsoon rains, resulting in severe flooding from June to September that submerged one-third of the country and affected 33 million people. Sindh was one of the hardest-hit areas, displacing 33 million people and destroying 4.4 million acres of agricultural land. Those in Sindh and the surrounding areas were made refugees in their own country overnight. Scientists estimate 1.2 billion people will be climate refugees by 2050.
I visited a village in Dadu where Islamic Relief are assisting in a number of projects including rebuilding 6,420 permanent homes for those affected by the flooding. I spoke with families where I heard first-hand about the devastating impact of the floods on their lives with severely limited access to food and healthcare. It was also concerning to hear about the rise in sickness such as malaria and dengue fever amongst young children in the region. To tackle this, Islamic Relief has been helping to support health clinics, distributing clean water and solar energy units as well as providing latrines and I was pleased to see the positive impact these projects are having in the community.
In the face of disaster, it was very inspiring to see how the community has come together to not only rebuild infrastructure in the region, but to also rebuild lives and nurture opportunities for young children, providing them with opportunities to build on important skills and offering them hope towards the future and I am very proud of the amazing work they have done already.
I also met with Ahmed Irfan Aslam, Pakistan’s Minister for climate change and environmental coordination, as well as the former minister, Sherry Rehman to discuss working bilaterally on providing aid.
Aid and relief to affected communities is essential for helping them to rebuild their lives. It is also essential that we do our part to tackle preventing the causes of these disasters so that they do not continue to become a frequent occurrence and the only way we can do this is by taking firm action on climate change.
Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to the negative effects of climate change and as a result, local communities are struggling to cope with frequent bouts of extreme weather such as chronic flooding.
In September, I pressed the Government in Parliament to commit to making a serious commitment to climate finance for loss and damage at COP28 and will continue to call on the Government to do more to address the climate emergency and ensure climate financing is directed to countries such as Pakistan that are least responsible for the climate crisis but one of the most impacted.
I would like to give my thanks to Islamic Relief for all the excellent work they have done and thank you to all those who have donated in support of the affected communities.
You can also watch videos highlighting my visit here.