Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Matters of Interest

Pakistan Floods

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:45): Today, I rise with a heavy heart to speak about the devastating floods and crisis unfolding in Pakistan. Authorities and humanitarian groups are responding to the worst floods Pakistan has experienced in decades. The disaster has impacted some 33 million people and led to the deaths of more than a thousand people over the past two months. One-third of Pakistan, a country of about 220 million people, was underwater, creating a crisis of unimaginable proportions since June when the monsoon seasonal rainfall began.

In its latest situation report, the National Disaster Management Authority, leading the response in coordinating assessment and directing humanitarian relief to affected people, declared 72 out of the country's 160 districts as disaster zones. The NDMA noted that at least one million homes, 162 bridges and nearly 3,500 kilometres of roads have been damaged.

Major rivers have breached their banks and dams have overflowed, destroying homes, farms and critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and public health facilities. UNICEF estimates that as many as seven million people have been displaced and thousands of schools have been damaged or destroyed across the country.

Even as floodwaters begin to recede, outbreaks of diseases, including typhoid and malaria, are increasing, as millions of people live in temporary shelters or out in the open near stagnating water. Many of the hardest hit areas are among the most vulnerable in Pakistan, where children and families already suffer from high rates of malnutrition and lack of access to clean water and sanitation.

Our hearts go out to all the families and communities impacted by this devastating crisis. Understandably, the anxious Pakistani community in South Australia has been deeply affected by this humanitarian tragedy, with many concerned for the health and safety of family and friends still living in Pakistan. It has been heartening to see the incredible outpouring of support from within the Pakistani and wider multicultural community to raise awareness and funds to help with the disaster.

I was privileged to attend a fundraising dinner to support the victims of the Pakistan flooding disaster organised by the Sindhi Sangat Australia—South Australia Chapter on Tuesday 13 September 2022. I would like to sincerely thank the hardworking president, Mr Faheem Samejo, and the dedicated organising committee working alongside Zafar and Safdar, proprietors of Olives Pakistani Cuisine, for putting together an urgent fundraiser.

Sindhis are an ethnic group of Pakistan primarily from the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, two of the areas that were most heavily affected by devastating floods and landslides in Pakistan. One can only imagine the distress the community must be going through seeing all the horrible images and news stories broadcasted across the media.

The dinner raised over $11,000, which has been sent directly to Pakistan to charity groups and people that are personally known to Sindhi Sangat SA and can immediately provide urgent food relief, medical supplies and on-the-ground services to those most affected by the flooding. Thank you also to all the volunteers, generous donors, sponsors and community leaders who came together to support this important cause.

Today, I would like to also highlight another incredible fundraising initiative organised by Human Appeal Australia assisted by Adelaide Sisters Association and supported by many community organisations. It is my privilege today to inform this parliament that the Human Appeal fundraiser held on Saturday 17 September successfully raised over $400,000, including sponsorship of over 140 orphans. I would like to thank Human Appeal Australia and all the community organisations for this wonderful fundraiser.

While the Australian federal government committed $2 million initially and later an extra $3 million in humanitarian assistance to Pakistan, community members in South Australia and across the nation believe that Australia can do more and must do more. I join members in South Australia calling on the Albanese Labor government to increase Australia's support to help Pakistan. Our thoughts and prayers remain steadfast with everyone who has been affected by the Pakistan flood and I thank all those who contributed with solidarity and kindness to the community in need.