UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said that the ongoing floods had cost Pakistan $30 billion, urging the international community to extend “massive support” to a country that had little contribution to the emissions but bore the brunt of the climate change.
The UN chief arrived in the capital Islamabad on Friday on a two-day visit to the South Asian country badly affected by by climate-induced floods and get a firsthand account of the devastation.
As many as 33 million people were affected by the natural disaster with people losing not just homes but their livelihood.
The scale of the devastation seems to have surpassed the “super floods” of 2010 as at that time Pakistan suffered losses of close to $10 billion.
While the government’s revised estimate suggested the direct and indirect losses could be in the range of $20 billion, the UN Secretary-General at a news conference with Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif came up with a figure of a whopping $30 billion.
Guterres insisted that extending support to Pakistan would not just be expressing solidarity but doing justice to a country that was the frontline state of the negative fallout of climate change.
“Humanity has declared a war on nature and nature has struck back. But nature is blind it is not striking back on those who contributed more to the war on nature,” he said.
He said Pakistan had contributed little to climate change but Pakistan was one of the most dramatically impacted hotspots of the consequence of climate change.
“So it’s like nature has attacked the wrong one. It should be at those who are more responsible for climate change,” he said while referring to the countries contributing the most to climate change.
The UNSG said there was an obligation of the international community to support Pakistan massively in the present circumstances.
The UN chief is no stranger to Pakistan as he has had 17 years long association with the country. He was the UN High Commissioner for refugees at the time of the Afghan war. He acknowledged the enormous generosity shown by Pakistan to host 6 million Afghan refugees.
“My voice and my services are entirely at the disposal of the government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan,” he said prompting the premier to acknowledge his strong words of support for Pakistan in this hour of need.
Thanking the UNSG , PM Shehbaz avowed that “every penny” for the flood victims would be spent transparently and go towards the suffering humanity.
The premier said that the federal and provincial governments and all stakeholders including the armed forces were working together to provide relief and rescue to 33 million affected people.
He said the rescue and relief efforts were in full gear and that people had been moved to safe places. He also thanked different countries and organisations for extending support to Pakistan.
He maintained that the nation would soon enter the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase and that Pakistan was doing its best with its meagre resources but would require sufficient support to repair the damaged infrastructure.
PM Shehbaz further stated that Pakistan’s floods were a glaring manifestation of climate change and that it was high time to take notice of the situation.