UN chief urges world to rush ‘more aid’ to Pakistan

Antonio Guterres holds talks with PM Shehbaz in Islamabad: Advocates debt support for Islamabad: Says he will mobilise international community for more assistance: Also visits NFRCC: Guterres says Pakistan in his heart: Believes it is among those countries hit severely by climate change: PM Shehbaz expresses gratitude over Guterres's solidarity visit

By: News Desk
Published: 09:37 AM, 9 Sep, 2022
Pakistan floods
Caption: TV grab shows Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and UN Secretary General attend a briefing at NFRCC in Islamabad.
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked the world to extend more assistance to Pakistan as it has suffered billions of dollars of damage in the devastating floods, besides giving it debt support to help it overcome numerous challenges including economic stability, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Addressing a joint news conference with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at National Flood Response and Coordination Centre in Islamabad on Friday, the UN chief said “I will mobilise the international community to send more aid to Pakistan.”

During his address, the US secretary general appreciated the efforts of all those people who were involved in the relief efforts. He said that natural calamities are merciless for everybody. 

He expressed his grief that the Pakistan floods had affected millions of people. 

The UN Secretary-General besides urging support for flood relief assistance also emphasized debt support for Pakistan to help the country overcome numerous challenges including economic stability.

Guterres, who had earlier launched a global appeal to raise $160 million for the flood-affected people of Pakistan, said joint efforts were required to help the country overcome the consequences of climate change.

The Secretary-General said Pakistan was witnessing an “unprecedented natural disaster” and lauded the government, army, and NGOs for working together in a “remarkable way”.

Guterres said he would continue to raise his voice for the Pakistani government and people who were grappling with difficult situations amid floods.

Pakistan is in my heart, Guterres said adding that Pakistan was included among those countries which were severely affected by climate change. He empathized with the flood-hit people saying that the purpose of his visit was showing solidarity with the flood victims and people of Pakistan. 

“Pakistan is in my heart as I have worked with this country for 17 years while the nation extended enormous generosity to Afghan refugees for decades,” he said.

Pakistan, he said, despite its little contribution to climate change was bearing the negative effects of the phenomenon of natural disasters.

He said it was absolutely essential for other countries, particularly those contributing to carbon emissions, to mobilize resources for Pakistan following the devastating monsoon.

“Today, it is Pakistan and tomorrow it could be any other country. Mobilizing resources for Pakistan is a matter of justice,” he said.

Talking to media, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that all institutions of Pakistan were busy in the rescue and relief efforts. Millions of affectees are being provided with food and other necessary items, the premier said adding that it was government’s foremost priority to shift the stranded people to safer places from the flood-hit areas. 

PM Shehbaz expressed his gratitude over the solidarity visit of UN Secretary-General Guterres to Pakistan. 

“We are very grateful for the solidarity demonstrated by you as 33 million people suffer dire conditions in the wake of heavy floods,” he told the Secretary-General, who arrived in Islamabad early this morning.

The prime minister said the civil government along with armed forces was carrying out massive rescue, relief and rehabilitation activities in the flood-affected areas.

He said Pakistan was facing the brunt of natural disasters and a similar situation could be faced by the rest of the world in future.

Sharif emphasized that after the rescue operations, Pakistan needed enormous funding for rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure.

The government, he stressed, was doing its best despite meagre resources and assured the Secretary-General that the dispensation of flood assistance would be made in a transparent manner.

Earlier, the UN chief was briefed about the damages caused by the floods and the rehabilitation work.

Giving a briefing, NFRC Chairman Ahson Iqbal said that the scale of floods this time was bigger than 2010 floods. He said the epic deluge had wiped out employment opportunities for people. He rued that country was facing extreme kind of inflation. 

He said hill torrents proved a challenge amid a lack of efficient infrastructure to deal with the disaster and resulted in heavy loss of lives, infrastructure, livestock and crops.

He said Pakistan was expecting around three percent reduction in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the backdrop of a combination of challenges including floods, IMF programme and the economic situation in the aftermath of Russian-Ukraine war.

Coordinator NFRCC Maj Gen Zafar Iqbal in his briefing said one-third of Pakistan was inundated in water covering a land area equal to the size of the United Kingdom, Portugal, New Zealand and Ecuador.

He said floods led to the loss of over $30 billion including the damage to 750,000 livestock.

In Sindh, he said, the national railway track remained underwater and the train service from Islamabad to Karachi could not be operated at the moment. It was highlighted that Manchar Lake burst at three places, affecting the railway line.

In Balochistan, he said, four districts were still under water.

The NFRCC official said the coordinated efforts among civil government, military and NGOs including the UN aid bodies were in full swing, adding that the assessment survey on relief operations in the provinces would start by Monday.

Antonio Guterres began a two-day visit to flood-hit Pakistan Friday that officials hope will boost global support for a humanitarian crisis affecting millions.

A third of the country is under water following record rains brought by what Antonio Guterres has described as "a monsoon on steroids".

Pakistan officials say it will cost at least $10 billion to rebuild and repair damaged infrastructure but the priority, for now, is food and shelter for millions made homeless.

PM, UN chief hold talks

Shehbaz Sharif and Antonio Guterres earlier held talks at a meeting in Islamabad and discussed the situation in the wake of massive floods in Pakistan. 

The two sides focused on joint efforts to carry out relief, rescue and rehabilitation at 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 international level. 

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 the PM House along with his delegation. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and senior officials were present. 

The Secretary-General is also scheduled to visit the flood-affected areas.  

Hina welcomes UN chief 

As Pakistan’s flood woes multiply with every passing day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the world to help Pakistan as he landed in the country Friday to see damage from the devastating floods that have killed hundreds and left more than half a million people homeless.

The UN chief’s visit came less than two weeks after he appealed for $160 million in emergency funding to help those affected by the monsoon rains and floods that have caused at least $10 billion in damages and 1,391 deaths.

“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 said on Twitter before dawn.

Last week, the UN chief issued a stern warning about the effects of climate change. “Let’s stop sleepwalking toward the destruction of our planet by climate change,” he said in a video message to a ceremony in Islamabad at the time. “Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.”

António Guterres landed in Islamabad to demonstrate solidarity with the people and the government of Pakistan tackling a massive natural disaster caused by unprecedented rains and floods throughout the country.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar received the United Nations secretary-general at the Islamabad International Airport.

During his two-day visit, Antonio Guterres will hold meetings with the Pakistani leadership and senior officials to exchange views on the national and international response to this climate-induced catastrophe.

He will also travel to areas most impacted by the climate disaster. The UN chief will also interact with displaced families and oversee UN’s humanitarian response work in support of the government’s relief efforts for millions of affected people.

According to the Foreign Office, the UN 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.

The secretary-general actively supported the US$160 million UN “Flash Appeal” to fund Pakistan’s Flood Response Plan and contributed a powerful video message at its launch event held simultaneously in Islamabad and Geneva on 30 August 2022.

The UN chief has been consistently stressing the linkage of such disasters with the impacts of climate change and warning the international community about the existential threat to our planet in case climate change was not addressed in a timely and effective manner.

The secretary-general’s visit will also spotlight the importance of sustained international support for Pakistan through the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, and for building resilience against future climate shocks.