ISLAMABAD: The Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres on Friday while calling for bringing the climate change issue on the international agenda, urged the world to support Pakistan not just to respond to present day challenge rather prepare itself for the future.
“It is very emotional for me to see the people of Pakistan suffering at the hands of climate change… “Helping the people of Pakistan is not a matter of solidarity but a matter of justice,” the UN Secretary General said addressing a joint press stakeout with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Earlier, both the leaders held a meeting to discuss the grave humanitarian situation in the flood-hit areas of the country. They also exchanged views on dealing with climate crisis, mobilization of climate finance and funds for reconstruction, rehabilitation and adaptation in the wake of floods in Pakistan.
The foreign minister, calling it a climate catastrophe, said considering the magnitude of the destruction, Pakistan was unable to get funds required to meet shelter, clothing and food for the 35 million flood-stricken people. He said the flood survivors were also at the risk of waterborne disease besides viruses and bacteria. He said as the country was yet going through the rescue and relief phase, a gigantic challenge of rebuilding the people’s houses, schools and infrastructure was ahead.
“When we have a 100km lake that has developed in the middle of Pakistan, tell me how big of a drain can I build to manage this? Where do I build a dam which can withhold & drain a 100km wide lake? There is no man made structure that can evacuate this water,” he remarked. The UN secretary-general, who is on two-day solidarity visit to flood-hit Pakistan, expressed deep solidarity with the people of Pakistan, said he would be visiting the flood hit areas on Saturday to review the magnitude of the destruction.
“No country deserves this fate but particularly, no countries like Pakistan, that has contributed nothing to global warming,” he remarked. Guterres urged the world step up their efforts to support Pakistan and other developing countries financial and technical resources to enable them cope with the challenges like floods, also urging the developed countries to produce a credible roadmap to back their commitments regarding the doubling of funding to address the climate change.
He said the loss and damage due to the climate change was not a future event rather “it is happening now” necessitating the urgent actions. He told media that the United Nations was on ground to support the flood-hit people with the teams providing food and other emergency supplies.
“What we have done is but a drop in the ocean for the people. Pakistan needs massive International support for relief and rehabilitation,” he commented. To another question, the UN chief told media that he always offered to mediate between Pakistan and India on Kashmir issue which was not accepted by India calling it a bilateral issue.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also said that despite government’s full engagement with rescue and relief efforts, continued international support, solidarity, and assistance was required for Pakistan to respond to the devastating impact of the floods.
The foreign minister, in a meeting with Administrator of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power here, said he looked forward to Pakistan and US building extensive engagement on climate change and on tools of climate resilience.
While appreciating the USAID administrator’s visit to Pakistan at that difficult hour amid most severe floods in Pakistan’s history, the foreign minister welcomed US support and solidarity with the people of Pakistan. He added that the ravaging floods had washed away entire villages affecting over 33 million people; death toll stood at 1300; four million acres of crops were destroyed; 800,000 livestock had been lost; and billions of dollars have been lost in critical infrastructure.
Foreign Minister Bilawal underscored that Pakistan was among the most severely affected countries due to climate change, especially with less than 1% carbon footprint. He stressed that the developed countries must step up their climate ambition, including towards the provision of predictable climate finance for mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change in the developing world.
The foreign minister called for greater climate justice and hoped that the developed countries would take all those measures that would support developing countries deal with worst impacts of climate change. Bilawal Bhutto thanked the USAID for providing financial assistance in the wake of floods.
He hoped that having witnessed the first-hand account of the devastation faced by the flood affected population, USAID Administrator Samantha Power would mobilize international community to come forward and support Pakistan in such trying times. The foreign minister also underlined that the Government of Pakistan had instituted very transparent mechanism to ensure that international financial assistance was efficiently and transparently disbursed. While expressing condolences and sympathies with the flood affected people, the USAID administrator affirmed that the US Administration would extend its full support to Pakistan to help mitigate the disastrous impacts of these floods.