Reconstruction flood aid lagging for 'double victim' Pakistan: UN chief

Broken promises to rebuild the country present "a litmus test for climate justice," UNSG says

Thursday, September 28, 2023
A volunteer paddles an inflatable tube as he evacuates a flood victim with his belongings, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Charsadda, Pakistan August 27, 2022. — Reuters

A year after deadly floods inundated a third of Pakistan, the broken promises to rebuild the country present "a litmus test for climate justice," the head of the United Nations said Wednesday.

"Billions were pledged" by rich nations in the aftermath of the disaster, said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, "but the vast majority was in loans. And Pakistan is still waiting for much of the funding."

"Delays are undermining people’s efforts to rebuild their lives," the UN chief said during a special session dedicated to the catastrophe, adding that the Asian nation was "a double victim — of climate chaos and of our outdated and unjust global financial system."

Some $9 billion was pledged to help reconstruct Pakistan in January, though it is still reeling from the effects of the heavy monsoon rains, which displaced eight million people and killed some 1,700.

More than eight million residents in areas hit by the floods lack access to clean water, Guterres said, while noting that Pakistan is responsible for less than one percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that likely fueled last year’s "climate chaos."

"The countries that contributed most to global heating must contribute most to righting the harm it has done."

Guterres also called for the creation of a "loss and damage" fund for developing countries — many of which, like Pakistan, are at outsized risk of climate change despite contributing relatively little in the way of carbon emissions.

Such a fund was promised at COP27 late last year, though it has yet to take shape. It is on the agenda for this year’s COP28, to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates.

Calling again for the world to move away from fossil fuels, Guterres warned that climate change is no longer "knocking on everyone’s door."

"Today, it is beating that door down, from Libya to the Horn of Africa, China, Canada and beyond."