Cyclone Biparjoy, a storm with 170 kmph winds, is set to make landfall in coastal areas of southern Pakistan on Thursday, risking the lives of dozens of communities in Sindh and Balochistan that are still yet to recover from last year’s floods that claimed the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is conducting an emergency needs assessment of the affected communities, and preparing to deploy emergency teams to deliver humanitarian assistance. This assistance will include mobile health teams equipped with critical lifesaving supplies such as medicine and first aid equipment, and the delivery of non-food items such as water and sanitation supplies and dignity kits for women.

Shabnam Baloch, IRC Pakistan Director, said,

“The communities in Sindh and Balochistan have already lived through the unimaginable in the wake of last year’s devastating floods, followed by heat waves this year. Families who have lost family members, homes and sources of  income are now facing yet another threat. 

“IRC teams are preparing to deploy an emergency response in the same communities that were ravaged in July 2022. In response to last year’s floods, the IRC reached around 1.6 million people with support ranging from cash assistance and healthcare, to emergency shelter and water and sanitation assistance, and we stand by to scale up this response in the face of Cyclone Biparoy.

“This cyclone is a clear symptom of climate change, and the latest in a line of extreme weather events to impact communities in Sindh and Balochistan. If this continues, it is likely that we could see an increase in internal displacement and this could have far-reaching implications on the future of Pakistan.”

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) began operations in Pakistan in 1980 in response to the growing number of Afghan refugees.We currently have over 1,500 staff and volunteers,  and our teams delivered food, shelter, safety, primary healthcare, education, vocational training, water supply systems, sanitation facilities, and other essential services to the Afghan refugees and host communities. Since then, the IRC now serves a wide group of marginalised, vulnerable, and impoverished groups across the country with public health, environmental health, education, disaster risk reduction, community services, and livelihoods support. In 2020, our teams met the needs of 43 million people under its COVID-19 emergency response.  During the floods, the IRC delivered emergency assistance both directly and with partners in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. Services have included the distribution of emergency non-food items, dignity and hygiene kits, food baskets, and the establishment of medical camps and safe spaces.