• Secretary General Guterres to visit Pakistan next week, survey most-impacted areas, meet displaced families
• FM Bilawal says appeal to complement broader effort
ISLAMABAD: The UN on Tuesday launched a $160 million appeal to provide emergency assistance to those affected by catastrophic floods in Pakistan.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in a video statement at the launch of the appeal in Islamabad and Geneva, reminded the world that “Pakistan is awash in suffering” and urged “collective and prioritised attention” to what he described as a “colossal crisis”.
Secretary General Guterres would himself undertake a solidarity visit to Pakistan next week to highlight the scale of devastation caused by the unprecedented floods, and mobilise international assistance.
This year, during the ongoing monsoon season, Pakistan received about 186 per cent higher rainfall than its 30-year national average. Balochistan and Sindh, meanwhile, got over 400pc more rains than the national average.
Mr Guterres described this as “a monsoon on steroids”.
The floods have affected nearly 33 million people, or 15pc of the country’s population. According to the National Disaster Management Authority, 1,136 people, including more than 386 children, have died since June 14 when the monsoon rains started. Nearly a million houses are damaged, displacing about half a million people to relief camps.
The damage to livelihoods and infrastructure has been enormous with 735,000 livestock perishing and two million acres of cropped area having been destroyed.
The government’s initial estimates suggest that in money terms the losses could be around $10 billion. It is, however, feared the amount could be much higher.
The UN secretary general also used this occasion to emphasise that the disaster was a result of climate change and that the world needed to immediately attend to it.
“Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country,” he stressed.
At the launch of the appeal at the Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the disaster was “of unimaginable scale and magnitude”.
“This appeal is expected to address only a part of the overall requirements and will, therefore, complement the broader effort,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said, adding the international community’s “full support and solidarity with the people of Pakistan at this time would go a long way in alleviating their suffering and in helping to rebuild their lives and communities”.
The UN Appeal focuses on the needs of 5.2 million people, with life-saving response activities amounting to $160.3m covering food security, assistance for agriculture and livestock, shelter and non-food items, nutrition programmes, primary health services, protection, water and sanitation, women’s health, and education support, as well as shelter for the displaced people.
UN SG visit
Secretary General Guterres will reach Pakistan on Sept 9, UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said in New York. He will visit the areas most impacted by this unprecedented climate catastrophe, and meet with displaced families.
Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar welcomed the secretary general’s trip.
“This is going to be significant and will contribute in a big way to our collective effort to highlight the impact of this disaster and to utilize this visit by the UN SG to further mobilize international assistance. We will be looking forward to welcoming the secretary general,” Mr Iftikhar said.
Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2022
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