WASHINGTON: The White House has assured Pakistan of its continued support in dealing with the consequences of this year’s unprecedented floods as UN Secre­tary General António Guterres urged the international community “not to lose one moment” in helping Islamabad deal with this ‘gigantic’ relief and rehabilitation task.

“My appeal to international financial institutions and my appeal to countries that have the financial capacity is not to lose one moment in providing Pakistan with the financial resources that are necessary for the gigantic tasks that are in front of us,” the UN chief said.

Such assistance, he said, was necessary “for still avoiding the worst and, at the same time, for relief, recovery and reconstruction at the scale that is unimaginable, and I have never seen anything similar, anywhere in the world”.

And a senior US health official, Dr Atul Gawande, reminded the world community that “rebuilding everything won’t happen at once. This is going to be months and years of work ahead. Dr Gawande is Assistant Administrator for Global Health at US Agency for International Aid (USAID), which is supervising US relief efforts in Pakistan.

The assurances and appeals followed a warning from relief experts and economists that this year’s floods have done an irreparable damage to Pakistan’s economy and the country would need massive support for recovering from this calamity which, many say, was caused by global warming.

In its latest report on the situation in Pakistan, The Wall Street Journal warned that “recent catastrophic floods will wipe out economic growth and cause acute food shortages in Pakistan, threatening anew to push a country already reeling from economic and political instability into default”.

At a Thursday afternoon briefing in Washington, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pointed out that the US has already provided a total of $53.1 million to support disaster resilience and flood response in Pakistan.

The US military was airlifting relief goods to the country while USAID has deployed a disaster assistance response team in Pakistan, she added. Technical experts from CDC were also assisting with the public health impacts of the flood, she said.

At another briefing at the United Nations, Secretary General Guterres also emphasized the need to help Pakistan. “First of all, we are strongly appealing to all that can help Pakistan to mobilise all their resources,” he said. “Pakistan needs a massive inflow of financial resources.”

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2022

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