Pakistan

UN dramatically hikes Pakistan aid appeal amid ‘second wave of death, destruction’

Written by The Frontier Post

GENEVA (Reuters): The United Nations has revised up its humanitarian appeal for Pakistan five-fold to $816 million from $160 million as it seeks to control a surge in water-borne diseases following the country’s worst floods in decades, an official said on Monday.

Nearly 1,700 people have been killed in floods caused by heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers in a crisis that the government and the UN have blamed on climate change.

“We are now entering the second wave of death and destruction” Julien Harneis, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan said at a Geneva briefing.

“There will be an increase in child morbidity and it will be pretty terrible unless we act rapidly to support the government in increasing the provision of health, nutrition, and water and sanitation services across the affected areas,” he said.

Pakistan’s economy faces a balance of payments crisis, a widening current account deficit, a slide in its currency to historic lows, and inflation crossing 27%.

Washington last Friday rolled over an agreement to suspend service payments on $132 million of Pakistan’s debt, the US embassy in Islamabad said.

The rollover is related to the Paris club agreement in April 2020 to support 73 lower-income countries during COVID, under which the United States provided relief on $128 million in debt to Pakistan.

The agreement to suspend payments on that debt, plus an additional $4 million, has now been rolled over again.

Islamabad also sought a rollover of $2 billion in Chinese deposits to its reserves, said a statement from Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s office after his meeting with Chinese envoy Nong Rong.

It said Dar sought the ambassador’s support in facilitating the rollover of SAFE China deposits of $US2 billion due in March 2023.

Beijing has already refinanced the syndicated facility of $US 2.24 billion to Pakistan earlier this year.

Pakistan’s outgoing finance minister Miftah Ismail said last week that Islamabad was seeking debt relief from bilateral creditors in the wake of flooding, but emphasised the government was not seeking any relief from commercial banks or Eurobond creditors.

The country’s bonds had slumped to just half their face value, after the Financial Times said a United Nations development agency was urging the cash-strapped country to restructure its debt.

Ismail said the $1 billion bond would be paid on time and in full due later this year.

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