UN chief to arrive in Pakistan on 'solidarity visit'

UN chief Antonio Guterres will visit Pakistan next week to express solidarity with the flood victims as the country is currently facing historic flooding that killed over 1,000 people since June...

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. AFP
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. AFP 

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will arrive in Pakistan next week to express solidarity with the flood victims as the above-average monsoonal showers inundated a third of the country and killed over 1,100 people as a result of excessive flooding.

"With the tragic situation facing millions of men, women and children impacted by historic floods in Pakistan, the Secretary-General will travel to the country next week for a solidarity visit," UN chief's spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a news briefing.

Guterres will arrive in Islamabad on September 9 and will travel to "the areas most impacted by this unprecedented climate catastrophe," Dujarric said.

He is expected to leave the country on September 11 after visiting the flood-hit areas.

The UN chief will be taken to the flood-hit areas where he will have conversations with displaced families and humanitarian agencies working on the ground.

Earlier in the day, the United Nations appealed to the world nations to collect $160 million in aid for the flood victims. At the same time, UN boss Antonio Guterres highlighted the importance of steps to buffer the effects of climate change. He also called upon the international community to take more steps to fight global warming and its impacts.

"It is outrageous that climate action is being put on the back burner as global emissions of greenhouse gases are still rising, putting all of us -- everywhere -- in growing danger," he said.

Worst flooding in more than a decade

The rains that began in June have unleashed Pakistan´s worst flooding in more than a decade, washing away swathes of vital crops and damaging or destroying more than a million homes.

Authorities and charities are struggling to accelerate aid delivery to more than 33 million people, a challenging task in areas cut off because many roads and bridges have been critically damaged.

Pakistan's central bank had already flagged the heavy rainfall as a threat to the economic output, given its impact on the agriculture sector.

As per an early and preliminary estimate by government officials, the damage from the floods could exceed $10 billion.

Till now, the southern, southwestern and northern belts have been the hardest-hit by the floods. Large swaths of farmlands and stored crops in these areas have been devastated.

Recently, Pakistan’s Minister for Planning Development Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters that 45% of the cotton crops had been washed away, while early wheat sowing in southern Pakistan has also been affected. Moreover, many rice fields, as well as lands where vegetables and fruits are planted, have been inundated.

Seasonal crops are critical to the economy, particularly cotton which makes up more than 60% of the country's exports, according to the data of the finance ministry.