Geneva, Switzerland, Jan 9 (EFE).- Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif sought $8 billion in aid from the international community on Monday to cope with the aftermath of the last summer’s devastating flooding, which the United Nations chief called “a climate disaster of monumental scale.”
“Nothing can go back to business as usual, tough choices will continue to be made,” Sharif said in a speech in Geneva, co-hosting the “International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan” with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The prime minister said the scale of the resource gap for funding the recovery against the backdrop of the floods was so wide that “it has redefined how we think about resilience.”
He said his government had prepared a comprehensive framework plan for recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction based on the post-disaster needs assessment.
“The plan reflects the priority for recovery and reconstruction, bearing in mind the minimum funding requirement of $16.3 billion.”
The prime minister said half of that was proposed to be met from domestic resources and “the other half from our development partners and friends.”
“I call for an international support plan to overcome this herculean challenge.”
The prime minister said the flooding, which he likened to “a tsunami from the sky,” caused an estimated loss of $33 billion, equivalent to 8 percent of Pakistan’s GDP.
The deluge that covered a third of Pakistan in June affected more than 33 million people, killed 1,700, displaced eight million, and damaged more than 8,000 km of roads and over 3,100 km of railway track.
“Today’s meeting is an attempt to give my people another chance at getting back on their feet,” Sharif said. “We are racing again the time.”
In his speech, Guterres said his “heart broke when I saw first-hand the utter devastation of last summer’s floods.”
“No country deserves to endure what happened to Pakistan.”
He said it was especially bitter to watch the country’s generous spirit being repaid “with a climate disaster of monumental scale,” recalling how Pakistan welcomed Afghan refugees with open arms despite scarce resources.
The UN chief said Pakistan was “doubly victimized” by climate chaos and a “morally bankrupt global financial system.”
“That system routinely denies middle-income countries the debt relief and concessional funding needed to invest in resilience against natural disasters.”
He said the global economic powers needed to find “creative ways for developing countries to access debt relief and concessional financing when they need it the most.”
“Above all, we need to be honest about the brutal injustice of loss and damage suffered by developing countries because of climate change.”
Global leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the UN meeting virtually to show solidarity with the Pakistani people. EFE