Friday September 09, 2022

Flood-hit Pakistan needs ‘massive’ financial support for relief and rehabilitation: UN chief

Flood-hit Pakistan needs ‘massive’ financial support for relief and rehabilitation: UN chief

Shahbaz Sharif (R) and Antonio Guterres attend a press conference at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad on Friday. AFP

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that Pakistan needed “massive” financial support for relief, recovery, and rehabilitation in the wake of the catastrophic floods that killed 1,391 people and displaced more than 33 million and are estimated to have caused $30 billion of damage.

Guterres said that the world owes impoverished Pakistan "massive” help in recovering from the summer's devastating floods because the country bears less blame than many other nations for climate change, which experts say contributed to the deluge.

Planeloads of aid from the United Arab Emirates, US and other countries have begun arriving, but Guterres said there's more to be done.

Nature, the UN chief said in Islamabad, has attacked Pakistan, which contributes less than 1% of global emissions, according to multiple experts. Nations that "are more responsible for climate change ... should have faced this challenge,” said Guterres, sitting next to Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Flood-hit Pakistan needs ‘massive’ financial support for relief and rehabilitation: UN chiefShahbaz Sharif (2L) walks with Antonio Guterres (C) upon his arrival at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. AFP

"We are heading into a disaster," Guterres added. "We have waged war on nature and nature is tracking back and striking back in a devastating way. Today in Pakistan, tomorrow in any of your countries."

The UN chief's trip comes less than two weeks after Guterres appealed for $160 million in emergency funding to help those affected by the monsoon rains and floods that Pakistan says have caused at least $10 billion in damages.

"I appeal for massive support from the international community as Pakistan responds to this climate catastrophe,” Guterres tweeted after landing in Pakistan earlier on Friday.

Flood-hit Pakistan needs ‘massive’ financial support for relief and rehabilitation: UN chief Antonio Guterres walks with Pakistan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, upon his arrival at the Islamabad International Airport. Reuters

He said other nations contributing to climate change are obligated to reduce emissions and help Pakistan. He assured Shahbaz that his voice was "entirely at the service of the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people” and that "the entire UN system is at the service of Pakistan.”

"Pakistan has not contributed in a meaningful way to climate change, the level of emissions in this country is relatively low," Guterres said. "But Pakistan is one of the most dramatically impacted countries by climate change."

Flood-hit Pakistan needs ‘massive’ financial support for relief and rehabilitation: UN chief US forces look on while local workers unload relief, sent by U.S government to Pakistani people, at Noor Khan Air Base. AP

On Friday, the first planeload arrived from the US, which Washington says is part of an upcoming $30 million in assistance. More US military planes are expected to arrive in the coming days as part of a humanitarian bridge set up by Washington to deliver much-need aid across the country.

USAID announces additional $120m

USAID announced an additional $20 million on Friday in humanitarian assistance for Pakistan, further enhancing US pledges. Later, Guterres directed his words at the international community, saying that by some estimates, Pakistan needs about $30 billion to recover from the floods.

Flood-hit Pakistan needs ‘massive’ financial support for relief and rehabilitation: UN chiefUSAID Administrator Samantha Power along with US Ambasador to Pakistan, Donald Blome, addresses a news conference in Islamabad. Reuters

"Even today, emissions are rising as people die in floods and famines. This is insanity. This is collective suicide," he said. "From Pakistan, I am issuing a global appeal: Stop the madness; end the war with nature; invest in renewable energy now.”

So far, UN agencies and several countries have sent nearly 60 planeloads of aid, and authorities say the UAE has been one of the most generous contributors and sent so far 26 flights carrying aid for flood victims.

Also on Friday, Samantha Power, the administrator of USAID, met Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Islamabad. She later told reporters she had visited flood-hit areas in Sindh province on Thursday, and she witnessed widespread destruction caused by floods.

Flood-hit Pakistan needs ‘massive’ financial support for relief and rehabilitation: UN chief

The floods have touched all of Pakistan, including heritage sites such as Mohenjo Daro, a Unesco World Heritage Site considered one of the best-preserved ancient urban settlements in South Asia. The civilisation that dates back 4,500 years, coinciding with those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The UN heritage agency on Thursday announced it would send $350,000 to help recover flood-damaged cultural heritage sites.

Speaking at a press conference with Bilawal, Guterres underscored the importance of combatting climate change.

"It is happening now all around us and I urge governments to address this issue,” he said and added that what he has done so far as the UN chief is "a drop in the ocean of the needs of the Pakistani people”.

He said a proposal for a donors conference for flood-hit Pakistan is under discussion.

Associated Press / NNI News Service

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