Friday, September 09, 2022
ISLAMABAD: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reached Pakistan early Friday on a two-day official visit to express solidarity with flood affectees battered by the devastating monsoon rains across the country.
Record monsoon rains and glacier melt in northern mountains, have triggered floods that have swept away houses, roads, railway tracks, bridges, livestock, and crops, and killed more than 1,391 people.
Huge areas of the country are inundated and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homes. The government says the lives of nearly 33 million people have been disrupted.
Therefore, to express solidarity after catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, the UN chief reached Islamabad, where Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar received him at the airport.
After reaching Pakistan, the UN chief again appealed to the international community to help Pakistan in this difficult time.
"I have arrived in Pakistan to express my deep solidarity with the Pakistani people after the devastating floods here. I appeal for massive support from the international community as Pakistan responds to this climate catastrophe," he tweeted.
According to the Foreign Office, the UN secretary general visit will go a long way in expressing solidarity with the government and people of Pakistan, braving a colossal climate-induced natural disaster caused by unprecedented rains and floods across the country.
“During the visit, Secretary General Guterres will have meetings with the Pakistani leadership and senior officials to exchange views on the national and global response to this catastrophe caused by climate change,” said the Foreign Office spokesman.
The UN chief will travel to areas most impacted by the climate catastrophe. He will interact with displaced families in the field and oversee the UN’s humanitarian response work in support of the government’s rescue and relief efforts for millions of affected people.
“The Secretary-General’s visit will further raise global awareness about the massive scale of this calamity and the resulting loss of life and widespread devastation. It will contribute towards enhancing commensurate and coordinated international response to the humanitarian and other needs of the 33 million affected Pakistanis,” added the spokesman.
The Secretary-General’s program includes a meeting with the prime minister, a visit to the National Flood Response and Coordination Centre (NFRCC), a joint presser with the prime minister, and hold talks with the foreign minister followed by a joint press stakeout at the Foreign Office, besides other engagements, all in related to the floods response.
The dignitary is also expected to visit the most-affected areas, including Balochistan and Sindh (Sukkur, Usta Muhammad, Mohenjo Daro and Larkana) where he will meet first responders and interact with people displaced by the floods. “He will also have a press talk at Karachi airport on Friday evening having personally witnessed the situation in several flood-hit regions”, said the spokesman.
"This visit will make the world better understand the devastation caused by the floods," Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a statement.
In July and August, Pakistan got 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average.
The southern province of Sindh has seen 466% more rain than average.
With additional input from Reuters