UN chief in Pakistan seeks global support for flood relief
Islamabad, Sep 9 (EFE).- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Pakistan on Friday to rally worldwide support for the country, ravaged by catastrophic flooding that has killed 1,400 and forced the government to seek humanitarian response for 33 million affected people.
Guterres arrived in Islamabad for a two-day visit shortly after midnight and was received at the airport by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar.
“I have arrived in Pakistan to express my deep solidarity with the Pakistani people after the devastating floods here,” Guterres tweeted.
“I appeal for massive support from the international community as Pakistan responds to this climate catastrophe,” he added.
The UN chief met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in his residence at noon on Friday.
The UN secretary-general had announced his plan for a solidarity visit to Pakistan after launching a $160 million flash appeal to help the country deal with unprecedented monsoon rains and floods.
The government has claimed that the devastating flooding has caused estimated damage of $10 billion.
During the visit, the UN secretary-general will also visit the worst-hit areas in the Balochistan and Sindh provinces, where he will meet first responders and those displaced by the floods.
He will also oversee UN efforts to tackle the crisis.
The Pakistani government wants to utilize the secretary-general’s visit to raise global awareness about the massive challenge of reconstruction and rehabilitation facing the country, foreign ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar told reporters on Thursday.
“The secretary-general will also raise awareness about the linkages of such mega disasters with the frightening impact of climate change,” he added.
The Pakistani government and the UN have linked the heaviest rainfall in the country in three decades to climate change.
Pakistan is among the ten most vulnerable countries in the world to global warming.
Experts attribute the catastrophe to unprecedented rains and melting glaciers in the country.
Pakistan has the largest glaciers – more than 7000 – outside the poles.
Almost 1,400 people, including 500 children, have died due to the floods since mid-June.
The catastrophe has injured over 12,000 people, damaged more than 1 million houses, and swept entire villages, official data showed. EFE