UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is received in Islamabad by Hina Rabbani Khar.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is received in Islamabad by Hina Rabbani Khar.

ISLAMABAD: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will seek the world’s generous support for the country devastated by catastrophic floods and highlight the urgency to deal with the climate change crisis, during his two-day visit to Pakistan.

Mr Guterres arrived in Islamabad shortly after midnight. The secretary general had announced his plan for a solidarity trip to Pakistan soon after the launch of the $160 million UN Flash Appeal for helping the people most affected by the floods caused by what he had called “monsoon on steroids”. He will be back in New York on Sept 11 where the 77th session of the UN General Assembly is starting on Sept 13.

Editorial: International responsibility

Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar, at the weekly media briefing on Thursday, said the secretary general will meet Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, visit the National Flood Response and Coordination Centre (NFRCC), have a joint presser with the prime minister, and hold talks with the foreign minister followed by a joint press stakeout at the Foreign Office, besides other engagements, all related to the floods response.

Mr Guterres will also visit areas most affected by flooding, including Balochistan and Sindh, where he will meet first responders and interact with people displaced by the floods.

The Pakistani government, Mr Iftikhar said, wanted to utilise the secretary general’s visit to promote global awareness about the massive challenge of reconstruction and rehabilitation facing the country.

“In this context, the secretary general will also raise awareness about the linkages of such mega disasters with the frightening impact of climate change,” he further said.

In pictures: Devastating floods affect millions in Pakistan

Islamabad has been urging the rich countries to help Pakistan and other poor countries suffering from climate change because of their massive greenhouse gas emissions that caused global warming. The rich countries have generally been reluctant to pay for the climate loss.

Pakistani leaders would in their meetings draw the secretary general’s attention to the huge resources needed for the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase. Sharing an overview of the international relief goods consignments reaching here, the spokesperson said “a large number of our friends and partners have stepped forward with assistance to buttress the government-led relief efforts”.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2022

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