Friday Sep 09, 2022
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has said that Pakistan was one of the countries most affected by climate change despite its minimal contribution to the phenomenon.
"Pakistan has had little contribution to climate change but [it] is one of the most dramatically impacted by the consequences of climate change," Guterres said during a briefing at the National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC) alongside Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
He is on a two-day visit to the country.
The United Nations has launched an appeal for $160 million in aid to help Pakistan cope with the disaster though Pakistan estimates the floods have caused losses of about $18 billion.
The UN chief said that climate change has attacked the wrong targets and those who are more responsible for triggering global warming should be the ones facing the challenges.
"There is an obligation of the international community to massively support Pakistan in this situation and an obligation to take the need to drastically reduce the emissions seriously, and at the same time, support countries that need to invest in resilience and recovery […],” he said.
Federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal, Sherry Rehman and officials from the Pakistan Army were also present on the occasion.
Gutress expressed appreciation for all those working tirelessly to support the victims of this “unprecedented natural disaster” and pledged to do his best in raising awareness in the international community.
Speaking at the briefing, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that the UN chief's empathy and support was great encouragement for Pakistan, as he expressed gratitude towards the visiting dignitary.
“The government of Pakistan, along with the provincial governments and all stakeholders […] are working together to provide relief and rescue to millions,” the premier said.
He said food and shelter are being offered but the challenge is huge. He thanked different countries and organisations for extending support to Pakistan in this difficult hour.
Shehbaz Sharif said Pakistan's floods are a glaring manifestation of climate change and it is high time to take notice of the situation.
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said damage assessment studies in the flood hit areas will soon be completed.
Alluding to the devastation caused by the floods, the minister for planning and development said the floods also affected economic growth.
We are also working simultaneously to prepare a plan to build a resilient infrastructure, he said.
National Flood Response and Coordination Center Coordinator Major General Zafar Iqbal gave a detailed briefing to the UN secretary-general about the flood situation and the ongoing rescue and relief efforts.
Earlier, the UN chief called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad to discuss the situation in the wake of catastrophic floods in the country.
The two focused on joint efforts to carry out relief, rescue and rehabilitation at the international level to mitigate the sufferings of the flood-affected people.
The UN Secretary-General, who has also launched a global appeal to raise $160 million as flood assistance for Pakistan, arrived in Islamabad early this morning to highlight the catastrophe at the international level and express solidarity with Pakistan.
Guterres in a tweet said; “I have arrived in Pakistan to express my deep solidarity with the Pakistani people after the devastating floods here.”
Earlier, the prime minister welcomed the UN Secretary-General as he arrived at PM House along with his delegation.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and senior officials were present.
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.
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.
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.
Additional input from APP and Reuters