Saturday, October 8, 2022

Nature chose wrong targets: UN chief on Pak floods

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Friday lamented that natural calamities were not “striking back” on those countries who have contributed more to the climate change but nations like Pakistan, who have minimal contribution to the climate crisis, are the most affected by its consequences. The UN Secretary-General made the comments during his visit to the country to see for himself the havoc caused by unprecedented rains and floods that have killed nearly 1,350 people and inundated about a third of Pakistan since early June.
On August 31, the UN and Pakistan government jointly appealed for USD 160 million in emergency funding to help those affected by the floods.
Guterres made the remarks during a visit along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to National Flood Response and Coordination Center in Islamabad where he was given a detailed briefing about the flood situation and rescue and relief activities in the affected areas.
“Humanity has declared war on nature and nature is tracking back. But nature is blind. It is not striking back on those who have contributed more to the war on nature,” he said.
Secretary-General Guterres arrived in Pakistan on Friday for a 2-day solidarity visit amidst the catastrophic situation caused by floods in Pakistan.
The UN chief said Pakistan has little contribution to global emissions but it is one of the most vulnerable hotspots to climate change.
“It is like nature has attacked the wrong targets. It should be those that are more responsible for climate change that should have to face these kinds of challenges,” Guterres said.
He asked the developed countries to drastically reduce emissions and support countries that need to invest in resilience and recovery as is the case in Pakistan.
He also said that it was an obligation of the international community to massively support Pakistan to meet the challenge posed by devastating floods.
The Flash Appeal for USD 160 million to support the response, led by the Government of Pakistan, will provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency education, protection and health support.
Expressing solidarity with the flood victims, the UN Secretary-General said he will do his best to raise awareness in the international community about the current situation in Pakistan and to mobilise the full UN system in support of the country.
The UN Secretary-General was also appreciative of the rescue and relief activities being carried out in the flood-ravaged areas.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Shehbaz expressed gratitude to the UN chief for his message of empathy and support for the people of Pakistan.
He said the federal and provincial governments and all stakeholders, including the armed forces, are working together to provide relief and rescue to 33 million affected people.
He said our rescue and relief efforts are in full gear and the people have been moved to safe places. 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 said Pakistan’s floods are a glaring manifestation of climate change and it is high time to take notice of the situation.
The Prime Minister said we will soon be entering the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase. He said Pakistan is doing its best with its meagre resources but the country will require sufficient support to repair the damaged infrastructure. He said we have an iron resolve to overcome the challenge but we need international support.
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 have also affected our economic growth.
Co-ordinator National Flood Response and Coordination Center Major General Zafar Iqbal gave a detailed briefing to the UN Secretary-General about the flood situation and the ongoing rescue and relief efforts.
Officials estimated more than 10 billion dollars of economic losses.