UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (pic) has called for “massive” international support for flood-ravaged Pakistan while visiting the country, with the cost of flood-related damage estimated by the government to be some $30 billion.
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 about 1,400 people.
Huge areas of the country are inundated and hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. The government says the lives of nearly 33 million people have been disrupted. Both the government and Guterres have blamed the flooding on climate change.
“I call on the international community that Pakistan needs massive financial support, as according to initial estimates the losses are around $30 billion”, Guterres told a joint news conference in the capital Islamabad, after meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Sharif said “Pakistan needs an infinite amount of funding” for its relief effort, adding the country “will remain in trouble as long as it doesn’t receive sufficient international assistance”.
Pakistan expects to cut its GDP growth projection for the financial year 2022-2023 to 3% from 5% due to the losses, planning minister Ahsan Iqbal told an earlier news conference.
The United Nations has launched an appeal for $160 million in aid to help Pakistan cope with the disaster.
Bhutto-Zardari told a news conference after the meeting that Pakistan was waiting for the rescue and relief phase of the crisis to end before calling a donor conference to work on reconstruction.
In July and August, Pakistan recorded 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rainfall – nearly 190% more than the 30-year average. The southern province of Sindh has been overwhelmed, with 466% more rain than average.
Guterres said the world needed to understand the impact of climate change on low-income countries.
“It is essential for the international community to realise this, especially the countries who have contributed more to climate change,” he said.